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Police: N.C. Community College Shooting Possible Hate Crime

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. ― Police are investigating the fatal shooting of a gay community college worker as a hate crime, while the man charged in the killing told a judge Tuesday there was “one less child molester” after the slaying of his former supervisor.

Nothing in police records substantiated the allegations Kenneth Morgan Stancil III made at his bond hearing, and a judge warned him he had the right to remain silent.

Stancil, a former student at Wayne Community College in Goldsboro, North Carolina, is accused of killing Ron Lane, his former work-study supervisor at the school.

Police said Lane, 44, was gunned down Monday morning soon after he reported for work. Lane had dismissed Stancil from the print shop’s work-study program in March because he had too many absences.

Police have not released a motive in the shooting and said the men’s relationship was purely one of supervisor and student.

Calls to Stancil’s home were not returned and family members declined comment to an Associated Press reporter.

Lane’s boss said Lane was gay, but police refused to say why a hate crime was being investigated.

Experts who track hate groups said Stancil’s facial tattoo with the number “88” was a clear indication of a neo-Nazi, who have been accused of attacking gays. However, police have not said whether Stancil held White supremacist beliefs.

Police say the 20-year-old Stancil entered the campus print shop on the third-floor of a building where he used to work and fired once with a pistol-grip shotgun. The shooting sparked a campuswide lockdown and police stormed the building looking for Stancil, who fled on a motorcycle. The manhunt lasted for nearly a day, ending with Stancil’s arrest on a Florida beach early Tuesday.

“Mr. Stancil had a calculated plan,” Goldsboro police Sgt. Jeremy Sutton said.

Police found the motorcycle abandoned in a median on Interstate 95 about 80 miles south of Goldsboro.

Police figured Stancil was headed south and alerted law enforcement. After releasing a photo of him with the tattoo on his face, police said people reported several sightings of him. Stancil had gotten most of the tattoo as recently as Saturday.

An arrest photo 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 Center 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.

“Those who get facial tattoos tend to be the uppermost, anti-social part of the scale,” Levin said.

Neo-Nazis have a long and violent antipathy toward gays, said Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups and other extremists throughout the United States.

Early Tuesday, more than 500 miles from the school, a beach patrol officer in Daytona Beach found Stancil sleeping on a beach with a knife, authorities said. Police don’t know how he got there. He was apprehended without incident.

Police have not found the 12-gauge shotgun they believe was used to kill Lane.

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

At his bond hearing in Daytona Beach, Stancil told the judge, saying there is now “one less child molester.” He said a close relative had been molested.

“Doing time is the easy part, know what I’m saying?” he said.

A clerk with the Wayne County sheriff’s office said there were no police records of any complaints filed by Stancil or relatives he accused Lane of molesting.

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

The judge denied bond and appointed a public defender.

Stancil had no criminal record before the shooting, police said.

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.

“I guess from my point of view, he [Stancil] was angry over getting dismissed from his duties,” Hood told The Associated Press. “He worked very well with Ron; he worked very well with my other employees.”

Meanwhile, students returned to class Tuesday.

“It’s a day of healing. We will be paying personal tributes to Ron Lane,” school spokeswoman Tara Humphries said.

Lane worked at the school for 18 years.

Martha Waggoner reported from Raleigh, North Carolina. Associated Press writer Jack Jones in Columbia, South Carolina, also contributed to this report.

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