On February 12, 2008, Lawrence “Larry” King sat in his first-period English class computer lab at the E.O. Green Junior High School in Oxnard, California, typing a paper on World War II. At 15, Larry was a slight, slender, effeminate boy, who came out as gay at age ten and had recently begun wearing make-up and women’s footgear to school—although that day he didn’t seem to have the heart for it, and came dressed in sneakers, baggy pants and a loose sweater, downplaying an image that had made him immediately identifiable among a class of 700.
The day before, Larry and some of his girlfriends had been playing a pre-Valentine’s game, naming the object of their affections, and then making so bold as to approach these wished-for inamoratas and offering their hearts. When Larry’s turn came, he chose Brandon McInerney, 14, a tall, handsome, strapping young boy with whom Larry had experienced some prior friction. Brandon was playing basketball nearby, and Larry strode onto the court in the middle of the game and brashly asked Brandon to be his Valentine.
The next morning at 8:00, Brandon silently took a seat behind Larry in the computer lab. He claimed to have finished his paper (World War II and Hitler in particular were popular subjects for him), so he sat quietly reading, frequently glancing up at Larry. At 8:30, he calmly retrieved the handgun he had smuggled into school in his pack, aimed it at Larry’s head, and fired. A moment later he fired again, then dropped the gun on the floor and nonchalantly walked out of the computer lab and off campus. Police arrested him just blocks away, less than ten minutes after the shooting.
Larry didn’t die on the classroom floor; he was rushed to Saint John’s Regional Medical Center, where for 24 hours his life hung in the balance. On the 13th he had a massive stroke, and was pronounced brain-dead. Kept on life support for another day so that his organs could be harvested, Larry was allowed to die on February 14, Valentine’s Day. He had in fact given away his heart, but not to the boy who killed him.
Larry’s life was not an easy one. Born January 13, 1993 to a drug-addicted single mother, at age two he was adopted by Dawn and Gregory King. Early malnutrition likely contributed to both his physical under-development (leading to a slight, 100 pound, 5’4″ frame at age 15) and the childhood speech impediment and reading disability which had him repeat the first grade. Larry was a sweet, generally good-natured boy, fond of crocheting and artistic projects, but he also acted out, and could be quite a handful.
Diagnosed with ADHD, Larry was prescribed medication, but nothing seemed to dampen his irrepressible personality. He was flamboyant and somewhat effeminate, but very sure of himself. At age ten, his best girlfriend Averi asked him point-blank after class if he was gay. His response of “Yeah, why?” was good enough for her, but not for others, to whom Larry became a sort of social pariah, but one who simply would not go away. Taunts and slurs became a matter of daily routine, but Larry refused to conform, flaunting his difference and confiding once to another female friend, “It’s OK. One day, they’ll regret it. One day, I’ll be famous.”
In and out of therapy in his ‘tweens, Larry was suspected of being autistic. He was put on probation at age 12 for shoplifting and vandalizing a tractor with a razor blade. His home situation became worse; Larry told several teachers that his father hit him, which Greg King denies, but in November 2007 the state removed him to Casa Pacifica, a group home for troubled and abused youth in Camarillo, five miles from Oxnard.
Most Casa Pacifica residents move on after about 30 days, but Larry stayed three months, until his death, continuing to make the commute to his old school daily. He became a popular fixture at Casa Pacifica, and the home gave him a $75 gift certificate to Target for Christmas, which he spent on a pair of brown stiletto shoes. The confidence he had acquired at the home encouraged him to express himself even more openly, and in January 2008 he began augmenting his school outfits with women’s boots, high heels, and a bit of make-up or glitter on his cheeks. He asked his teachers to call him “Leticia” (they refused) and started signing his homework that way.
He’d had enough of the bullying and name-calling, too, and responded with some sexual harassment of his own, telling fellow students in his PE class that they “looked hot” while they were changing, and approaching others in the halls with a lustful, “I know you want me,” in clear ear-shot of their peers. When asked by a teacher why he acted in this way, Larry responded that it was “fun to watch them squirm.”
One of his targets was Brandon McInerney, a member of a popular clique whom Larry singled out for special attention. He would come up very close to Brandon, stop and stare, and claimed that he had been his boyfriend, but they’d broken up. The allegation provoked an escalation in the tension between the two, which went from sexual slurs to threats of violence from Brandon, who at one point attempted to enlist the support of friends to give Larry the beating he felt he deserved. That beating never came off for lack of interest from the other boys, but Brandon kept on the verbal attack, Larry deflecting and attempting to impugn the other boy’s sexuality. At one point, Brandon vowed to “get a gun and shoot” Larry, and several students noted and reported the increased acrimony, though none mentioned the death threat until after the shooting.
And then came the Valentine’s game. Brandon’s friends who were on the court at the time began teasing him that he and Larry were making “gay babies” together. After lunch, Larry mouthed “I love you” to Brandon as they passed in the hall, and Brandon then turned to one of Larry’s friends who was following behind, and told her, “Say goodbye to your friend Larry because you’re never going to see him again.”
The next morning a Casa Pacifica counselor was surprised to see Larry “out of uniform” and dressed sloppily, apparently low-key and depressed. When questioned, he responded, “I’ve had enough,” and later lied to friends who remarked upon his changed appearance that he was out of makeup and glitter. An hour later he was shot.
At the March 7 memorial held for Larry at his school, friends and faculty lauded his charms, his vibrant personality, his love of life. His friend Averi, who had first asked him about his sexual orientation, read a poem she had written comparing him to a garden seed that had grown and died. The school band played “Amazing Grace” while two dozen doves were released into the sky. In the audience, one of Brandon’s friends commented to another in hushed tones, “That’s so gay.”
Born 13 January 1993, Lawrence King’s natal chart sports a number of factors which signify his sexuality and violent demise. The Sun at 23 Capricorn is closely conjunct asteroid Damocles at 24 Capricorn, indicating a potential doom hanging above his head from birth. The pair squares the Black Hole at 24 Aries, which often indicates a larger-than-life individual, one unbound by convention, with his own view of reality and a desire to express this nonconformity. Spectacular changes of fortune are also common with this placement, and while many Black Hole Sun individuals prefer to remain behind the scenes, often they cannot avoid attention, as others are drawn to them irresistibly, for good or ill.
There is also a tight sextile to natal Pluto at 24 Scorpio, associated with sexual taboo, intimidation and violence, and death. Pluto itself is conjoined by Trans-Neptunian minor planet Ixion, named for Greek mythology’s first murderer, which at 27 Scorpio activates the Quasar at 28, an anomaly provoking highly visible manifestations of whatever it touches. In the weeks and months after Larry’s murder, his death became a cause celebre, with nationwide vigils held in his honor. On April 25, 2008, the annual national Day of Silence, which commemorates those GLBT individuals silenced via harassment, bias, abuse and homophobia, was dedicated to Larry.
Mercury at 17 Capricorn is conjunct the Black Hole at 19, which also enfolds Uranus and Neptune, exactly conjoined at 18 degrees. This describes the verbal (Mercury) abuse (Neptune) suffered by Larry as well as his own provocative (Uranus) statements (Mercury) in response, and indicates a volatile, even explosive (Uranus) energy associated with the classroom and fellow students (both Mercury). The Black Hole here has the potential to elicit truly bizarre and uncontrolled manifestations, in-the-twinkling-of-an-eye reversals and dramatic changes to the status quo, birthing alternate realities into our own.
Mercury also opposes Mars at 15 Cancer retrograde. Retrograde Mars often denotes inversion, an early psychological term for homosexuality, and the contact with Mercury promotes violence or death (Mars) from youths or students (Mercury). The opposition becomes a Galactic Grand Cross when we factor in minor planet Eris at 16 Aries and Jupiter at 14 Libra conjunct the Quasar at 15 Libra. Eris is named for the Greek goddess of Discord, and indicates the fractious, bullying, quarrelsome nature of much of Larry’s schoolyard interactions. The Quasar again denotes a highly visible, noteworthy manifestation of the energies being activated, and Jupiter here acts to inflate the situation, escalating verbal (Mercury) attacks (Mars) into physical acts of violence (Mars).
Larry’s natural affections are not in the least doubt with this nativity. Venus, arbiter of romantic attraction, lies at 10 Pisces in opposition to the Black Hole at 9 Virgo, which often indicates natives who chose partners that others consider inappropriate or unacceptable, such as many gay unions are still popularly deemed to be. Venus forms a T-Square with a second Black Hole at 10 Sagittarius, which is exactly conjunct both asteroid Sappho, named for the famed ancient Greek lesbian poet, and asteroid Eros, named for the Greek god of passionate, erotic love, culturally associated with homosexual activity in the Hellenistic world.
Brandon McInerney’s life was no bed of roses either. His parents had an abusive relationship, with his father once shooting his mother in the arm in a drunken rage, and later choking her, for which he spent ten days in jail. Kendra McInerney was a meth addict, Bill McInerney an alcoholic; the couple divorced in 2000. Brandon moved in with his father in 2004 when his mother entered rehab. But his father worked 60 miles from home, and Brandon was alone often, and began to fall in with a bad crowd. His grades dropped significantly. The only thing he showed much interest in was Hitler, World War II and Nazism, with which he seemed obsessed, memorizing details of the Nuremberg trials and all the names of Hitler’s deputies.
Born 24 January 1994, Brandon McInerney’s nativity shows the same Sun/Damocles pairing that Larry King’s does, with the Sun at 4 Aquarius and Damocles hovering nearby at 1 Aquarius. These oppose the Black Hole at 3 Leo and square the Quasar axis at 5 Taurus and Scorpio, reiterating much of the alternate reality/high profile energy of Larry’s chart. Had he been born 18 days later, he would have been tried as a minor, but when he turned 14 he became subject to adult penalties under California law, which mandates 50 years to life for first degree murder. His case has become a focal point for opponents of the reduced age for felony indictments.
Mars conjoins this duo from 27 Capricorn, itself exactly squared the Black Hole at 27 Aries, signifying both his athletic prowess, for which Brandon was noted at E. O. Green, and tendencies to violence. Black Hole Mars in particular can have problems with anger management, and controlling one’s actions; aggressive instincts are heightened, and anger can be explosive and erupt without warning. Brandon’s Mars also conjoins Larry’s Sun, indicating sexual tension or attraction, antipathy, acrimony and strife.
Pluto and Ixion are once again conjunct, even closer than in Larry’s chart, at 27 and 28 Scorpio respectively, and keyed even more tightly on the notoriety-provoking 28 Scorpio Quasar. Uranus and Neptune are still conjunct as well, now at 21 and 22 Capricorn, also pulling in another gay-themed asteroid, Ganymed at 20 Capricorn, named for Zeus’ boyish cupbearer and lover, indicating possible confusion (Neptune) or aversion (Uranus) regarding his own sexuality.
Additionally, Brandon’s natal Eros at 21 Pisces, significator of erotic passion, is exactly conjoined Larry’s natal Antinous, yet another asteroid with a gay connection, named for the lover of Roman Emperor Hadrian, deified after his tragic early death. Brandon’s natal asteroid Lust stands close by at 20 Pisces. It’s possible there was some sort of mutual attraction there with which Brandon was unable to cope.
When Brandon pulled the trigger at 8:30 AM PST in Oxnard, California on February 12, 2008, transit Pluto at 0 Capricorn had just exactly conjoined the Midheaven, an apt image of the highly public (Midheaven) death (Pluto). Ixion (murder) at 14 Sagittarius was exactly sextile Larry’s Jupiter at 14 Libra, thus activating the natal Mercury/Mars polarity that spelled student violence, and also exactly squared to the natal placement of gay-themed asteroid Sappho at 14 Pisces in Brandon’s chart, indicating the murder of a homosexual.
Transit Venus at 23 Capricorn was exactly conjunct Larry’s natal Sun, a sad commentary on the attraction for Brandon, real or feigned, which led to his death. From that degree it also activated the Uranus/Neptune conjunction in Brandon’s chart at 21 and 22 Capricorn, its expression of romantic interest (Venus) precipitating the explosive (Uranus), tragic (Neptune) outcome.
The transit Moon at 4 Taurus was igniting the 5 Taurus Quasar and exactly squared Brandon’s Sun, propelling him into the national spotlight and public (Moon) notice (Quasar). Transit Mars at 25 Gemini was opposing the Galactic Center at 26 Sagittarius, indicative of a widely noted violent act, and was inconjunct both Brandon’s Mars and Larry’s Sun, exactly aspecting the midpoint between them. Transit Mercury at 10 Aquarius conjoined the Black Hole at 12 Aquarius and opposed the Black Hole at 9 Leo, indicating the alternate reality (Black Hole) injected into the school environment (Mercury) and identifying its agent as a student (Mercury), further highlighting the elements of children and a romantic basis (both Leo) for the event.
From there Mercury is also conjunct Larry’s natal asteroid Lust at 11 Aquarius. Both Sappho and Ganymed were angular, Sappho at 5 Aries conjoined the 0 Aries Ascendant, and Ganymed at 8 Cancer retrograde conjunct the 0 Cancer Nadir, indicating the prominence of gay themes to the tragedy. Transit asteroid Damocles, conjunct the Sun in each boy’s nativity, was at 17 Aquarius, exactly conjunct both Larry’s natal Saturn, ancient significator of death, and Brandon’s natal Mercury, indicating the scholastic venue of the doom that had finally encompassed them both.
The case has yet to come to trial, receiving numerous continuances as both defense and prosecution seek evidence and spar for judicial advantage. Bizarrely, the most recent postponement, on March 18, 2009, was caused by the sudden death of Brandon’s father, Bill McInerney being found dead the morning of his son’s hearing by the woman who had come to drive him to court. The cause of death was blunt head trauma from an accidental fall, a contributing cause listed as alcoholism, McInerney having become heavily intoxicated the night before, St. Patrick’s Day.
Since that time delays have ensued over a lesser included charge of “lying in wait,” which potentially increases sentencing penalties, and which defense attorneys allege was added “vindictively” by prosecutors. In November 2009, a California state appellate court rejected a petition to overturn an earlier Ventura County court ruling validating the lying-in-wait charge, and as of December, a court date for the trial to begin has been set for May 14, 2010. Brandon McInerney remains incarcerated at Juvenile Hall, where he has been since the shooting, in lieu of $770,000 bail.