The shooting death of a longtime North Carolina college employee will be investigated as a hate crime, police said Tuesday morning, just hours after the 20-year-old suspect was arrested on a Florida beach.
Ronald Lane, 44, was shot and killed inside the print shop at Wayne Community College in Goldsboro, N.C., on Monday morning, police said during a Tuesday news conference.
Kenneth Stancil III, 20, who had worked with Lane in the campus' print shop as part of a work-study program, shot Lane once with a "pistol-grip shotgun" and then fled south on a motorcycle, Goldsboro Police Sgt. Jeremy Sutton told reporters Tuesday.
Sutton said Stancil entered the campus on a mission to kill Lane.
"Stancil had a calculated plan and he, in fact, carried out that plan," Sutton said.
The shooting "is being investigated as a possible hate crime," according to Sutton, who declined to elaborate.
Stancil offered a different motive when he appeared in a Florida court on Tuesday. After seemingly confessing to killing Lane in open court, Stancil accused the victim of molesting his younger brother, court officials said.
“He essentially made comments that the person he had killed was a child molester and was molesting his brother," Ludie Lelis, a spokeswoman for the 7th Judicial Circuit of Florida, told the Los Angeles Times. “The way he worded it, he implied he killed that person because he was a child molester.”
Tara Humphries, a spokeswoman for the college, deferred all questions about Stancil's accusations to police officials.
“That’s a personal life thing that we wouldn’t know anything about," she said.
Stancil was asked to leave the federal work-study program he was a part of in February, Humphries told The Times. Lane made the decision to terminate Stancil, but a reason for his dismissal was not immediately clear.
Both Stancil and Lane are white, according to Kim Best, a city spokeswoman. Stancil's mug shot, taken after his arrest Tuesday morning in Florida, shows his face marked by tattoos, including an "88" tattoo below his right eye that is commonly associated with white supremacist leanings.
Sutton said Stancil may have gotten the facial tattoos less than 48 hours before the shooting.
Stancil's mother told a local television station that her son was upset with Lane for making sexual advances toward him, according to a WNCN report.
"He was very upset when the person that's deceased was making advances to him. He told him to stop and he kept on," Debbie Stancil told the television station.
Calls to Stancil's home were not immediately returned.
Initial reports that Stancil had taken a hostage and remained on the campus unnerved the community Monday, sparking an hours-long manhunt.
But Stancil fled the campus immediately, according to Sutton. The suspect ditched his motorcycle in Lumberton, N.C., about 100 miles south of Goldsboro near the South Carolina border, and traveled all the way to Daytona Beach, Fla.
Police found him sleeping on a beach around 1:20 a.m. Tuesday, and arrested him immediately, Sutton said. He is expected to be extradited to North Carolina, where he will be charged with Lane's murder, Sutton said.
Humphries said Stancil began attending classes at Wayne Community College late last year. He was studying welding, and Humphries said she did not believe Lane knew the shooter outside of work.
Stancil was "dismissed" from the work-study program and was no longer a student in February, according to Sutton. It's not clear why Stancil was dismissed.
Lane had worked in the print shop as a technician for 18 years, according to Humphries, who said he was well known on the small campus, which has 300 employees.
"I found him to be always cheerful and kind," she said.
Stancil did not have a criminal record prior to the shooting, according to Sutton. He is being held without bond in Florida until he can be extradited to North Carolina, according to Lelis.
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