A former community college student dismissed from a work-study program 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, 20, was arrested without incident early on April 14 while sleeping on a Florida beach, about 500 miles 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.
Police say Stancil shot 44-year-old Ron Lane on April 13 at the college. Lane, the school’s print shop director, had been Stancil’s supervisor in a work-study program 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 “was verbally inappropriate with Morgan at school. Very much verbally inappropriate. 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 canceled on April 13, but the school re-opened on April 14.
“It’s a day of healing. We will be paying personal tributes to Ron Lane,” Humphries said.
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.
“Mr. Stancil had a calculated plan,” Goldsboro police Sgt. Jeremy Sutton said.
He left behind a six-page letter explaining his actions and a video, which have been turned over to police, his mother said.
Police found the motorcycle abandoned in a median on Interstate 95, about 80 miles south of Goldsboro. They are not sure how he got to Florida.
The manhunt lasted for nearly a day, ending with Stancil’s arrest in Daytona Beach. 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 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.
Goldsboro police and the Wayne County district attorney’s office will work to have Stancil extradited to North Carolina to face a murder charge.
Stancil had no criminal record before the shooting. He was on the school’s dean’s list with a grade point average of 3.6 or better and due to graduate in July with a degree in welding technology, the school 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.”