US college shooting may be a gay hate crime

2015-04-15 11:00
Kenneth Morgan Stancil III is seen in a booking photo provided by the The Volusia County, Department of Corrections. (File, AP)

Kenneth Morgan Stancil III is seen in a booking photo provided by the The Volusia County, Department of Corrections. (File, AP)

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Daytona Beach - A former community college student dismissed from a work-study programme for too many absences is accused of fatally shooting his former supervisor, who was gay, and police are investigating the campus slaying as a possible hate crime.

Kenneth Morgan Stancil III, aged 20, was arrested without incident early on Tuesday while sleeping on a Florida beach, about 800km from Wayne Community College in Goldsboro, North Carolina. Stancil made his first court appearance later in the day, saying in a profanity-laced and unsubstantiated tirade that the man he killed had molested a relative.

Stancil told the judge there is now "one less child molester." The judge denied bond and appointed a public defender.

Police say Stancil shot 44-year-old Ron Lane on Monday morning at the college. Lane, the school's print shop director, had been Stancil's supervisor in a work-study programme before Stancil was let go in early March. It wasn't clear how long they had worked together.

Police have not released a motive in the shooting. Stancil's mother told The Associated Press that Lane made sexually laced 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 cancelled on Monday, but the school re-opened on 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, as Kenneth Stancil claimed in court, because the relative and Lane had never met. She believes Kenneth Stancil is making the accusations because he is "rattled and confused."

12-gauge shotgun

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."

Experts who track hate groups said Stancil's facial tattoo with the number "88" is a clear indication of a neo-Nazi, a group that has been accused of attacking gays. However, police have not said whether Stancil held white supremacist beliefs or what hate crime they are investigating.

Stancil's mother said he gave himself the facial tattoo over the weekend and it marked a wannabe rather than someone who expressed neo-Nazi views.

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.

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

The manhunt ended with Stancil's arrest in Daytona Beach, Florida. 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.

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 centre 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.

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

The judge denied bond and appointed a public defender.

Lane's brother and sister declined to comment when reached by AP.

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.

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