Amidst an epidemic of campus killings in the US, a gay 15 year-old junior high student in California has been killed, allegedly by one of his classmates, 14 year-old Brandon McInterney, during school last week.

Lawrence King, who self-identified as gay, was declared brain dead on Wednesday as a result of the shooting. He was taken off life support at St. John’s Regional Medical Center on Thursday night. According to various reports, prosecutors are looking at the shooting as a premeditated hate crime.

Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, the US’s largest gay civil rights organisation, released a statement in response to the tragedy:

“This incident is another heartbreaking reminder of how often young people must endure intimidation or violence in school because of their sexual orientation or the way they express their gender identity,” he said.

McInterney was detained soon after the shooting. According to the Los Angeles Times he can legally be charged with murder as an adult and could face life in prison.

The newspaper reports that schoolmates had seen the two boys arguing on Monday. They said that King had come out as gay and was often teased by students for wearing make-up and jewellery.

“This tragedy illustrates the need to pass a federal hate crimes law to ensure everyone is protected against violent, bias-motivated crimes, wherever they reside. We extend our deepest condolences to Lawrence King’s family, classmates and the Oxnard community as the facts in this case continue to unfold,” said Solmonese.

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