Hundreds of parents filled an Oxnard gymnasium Tuesday night to ask hard questions about why school officials didn't intervene more aggressively in an escalating feud between two students, which ended last week with the shooting death of 15-year-old student Lawrence King.
In orderly fashion, one parent after another asked for metal detectors on campus, more programs dealing with bullying and for stricter enforcement of the district's uniform policy.
"There were probably weeks of this student being subjected to harassment," said Joe Gonzales, parent of a student at E.O. Green Junior High in Oxnard, where King was killed Feb. 12. "We need to know what was done, or not done, so we can prevent something like this from happening again instead of reacting to it."
Details about events the days before the shooting also trickled out as a panel that included school officials, mental health counselors and Oxnard Police Chief John Crombach responded to questions.
One parent said her daughter told her that several students exchanged text messages the day before the shooting that talked about what the suspect planned to do.
Crombach acknowledged that several students told police they heard about "comments, statements and threats" that were made but that they didn't take the chatter seriously and that there was no evidence that it was reported to school officials.
The police chief said the alleged shooter, Brian McInerney, 14, has refused to talk to investigators so it is unclear why King was shot.
His actions that morning, however, made it clear he planned an attack, Crombach said. The classroom teacher had little time to react, he said.
"It's pretty clear our suspect was focused on his victim and what he planned to do," the chief said. He later said the suspect apparently got the small-caliber handgun from home.
Crombach and school officials told parents that they are reviewing safety procedures and considering installing metal detectors. A school assembly is planned next month to talk to students about bullying and what they should do if they see it on campus.
The killing last week has sparked anguish not only in Oxnard but across the nation as worried parents and gay rights advocates ask whether school officials should respond more aggressively to schoolyard bullying.
King's classmates said he had proclaimed himself gay in recent weeks.
Times staff writer Gregory W. Griggs contributed to this report.