Police investigating North Carolina college shooting as possible hate crime

Police are investigating the killing of a former North Carolina community college worker as a possible hate crime.

Kenneth Morgan Stancil III, 20, was arrested early Tuesday while sleeping on a Florida beach, some 500 miles away from Wayne Community College in Goldsboro, North Carolina. Stancil made an appearance in court later that day, saying in a profanity-laced, unsubstantiated tirade that the man he killed, who was gay, had molested a relative.

Police say Stancil shot 44-year-old Ron Lane Monday morning at the college. Lane, the school’s print shop director, had been Stancil’s supervisor in a work-study program before the 20-year-old was dismissed in early March.

Police have yet to determine a motive behind the shooting. Stancil’s mother told The Associated Press that Lane made sexually suggestive comments to her son.

"He was verbally inappropriate with Morgan at school. Very much verbally inappropriate," Debbie Stancil said. "He would tell him to stop and he kept on."

College spokeswoman Tara Humphries said she did not know whether any complaints had been lodged against Lane. Classes were canceled Monday, but the school re-opened Tuesday.

"It's a day of healing. We will be paying personal tributes to Ron Lane," Humphries said.

Debbie Stancil said she knows one of her relatives was not sexually abused by Lane because they had never met before. She believes her son is making the accusations because he is “rattled and confused.”

He never recovered from his father's suicide in 2009 and was angry about being dismissed from the college's print shop, she told AP.

"I don't agree with what he did, but in his mind he must have thought that was the only way," she said. "He's probably out of his mind. I think he needs mental help."

A booking photo from Florida showed Stancil with the number "88" on his left cheek, a number used by racist extremists, said Brian Levin, a criminal justice professor and director of the Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino. Because "H'' is the eighth letter of the alphabet, 88 equates to HH or "Heil Hitler," Levin said.

"Those who get facial tattoos tend to be the uppermost, anti-social part of the scale," Levin said.

However, police have not said whether Stancil held white supremacist beliefs or what hate crime they are investigating.

Stancil’s mother said her son gave himself the tattoo and labeled him as a wannabe rather than a member of any neo-Nazi group.

Stancil entered the print shop on the third-floor of a campus building and fired once with a pistol-grip shotgun, police said. The shooting sparked a campus-wide lockdown and officers stormed the building looking for Stancil, who fled on a motorcycle.

"Mr. Stancil had a calculated plan," Goldsboro police Sgt. Jeremy Sutton said.

Stancil left behind a six-page letter explaining his actions and a video, which have been turned over to police, his mother said.

Police found the motorcycle abandoned in a median on Interstate 95, about 80 miles south of Goldsboro. They are not sure how he got to Florida.

The manhunt lasted for nearly a day before Stancil's arrest in Daytona Beach. He had a knife on him but was apprehended without incident. Police have not found the 12-gauge shotgun they believe was used to kill Lane.

Goldsboro police and the Wayne County district attorney's office will work to have Stancil extradited to North Carolina to face a murder charge.

At Stancil’s bond hearing, he told the judge there is now “one less child molester.”

“Doing time is the easy part, know what I’m saying?” he said.

Stancil had no criminal record before the shooting. He was on the school's dean's list with a grade point average of 3.6 or better and due to graduate in July with a degree in welding technology, the school said.

Brent Hood, coordinator of education support technology at the college, was Lane's supervisor for the past three years. He said he thought Stancil killed Lane because he was upset over being dismissed, not because he was gay.

"I guess from my point of view, he (Stancil) was angry over getting dismissed from his duties," Hood told The Associated Press. "He worked very well with Ron; he worked very well with my other employees."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.