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Prosecutors call Calif. shooting a hate crime

A prosecutor says a California 14-year-old accused of shooting a fellow eighth grader committed a hate crime.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Prosecutors on Thursday charged a 14-year-old boy with attempted murder and said he committed a hate crime in the classroom shooting of an eighth-grader who was declared brain dead.

Prosecutors would not say why they filed a hate-crime enhancement with the attempted murder count, but several classmates said the 15-year-old victim, Lawrence King, sometimes wore makeup, high heels and other feminine attire.

Prosecutors want the suspect tried as an adult and expect to upgrade the charges after King is taken off a ventilator for organ donation.

"It is inevitable that this is going to become a murder case," Ventura County prosecutor Maeve Fox said.

King was shot in the head Tuesday morning during a class at E.O. Green Junior High in Oxnard, police said. More than 20 other students were in the room at the time.

Fox said she could not discuss the facts behind the allegation of a hate crime because those details of the case have not been publicly disclosed. Oxnard police have not specified a motive but said there appeared to be a personal dispute between the two.

King sometimes came to school wearing makeup and high heels, eighth-grader Nicholas Cortez, 14, told The Associated Press.

Another eighth-grader, Michael Sweeney, said King's appearance was "freaking the guys out," the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday.