Police: College shooting possibly hate crime; victim was gay
GOLDSBORO, N.C. (AP) -- Police said Tuesday they were investigating the fatal shooting of a gay community college worker as a possible hate crime.
The shooting victim, 44-year-old campus print shop director Ron Lane, was gunned down by former student Kenneth Morgan Stancil III on Monday morning, police said. Lane 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 a supervisor-student one. Calls to Stancil's home were not returned and family members declined comment to an Associated Press reporter.
Lane's supervisor at the college said Lane was gay, but police refused to say why a hate crime was being investigated.
"At this time, I'm not prepared to divulge that information," Goldsboro police Sgt. Jeremy Sutton said at a news conference.
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 Wayne Community College print shop where he used to work and fired once with a pistol-grip shotgun, killing Lane, his former supervisor, just as Lane was arriving for work. The shooting sparked a campus-wide lockdown as police stormed the building searching for Stancil, who immediately fled on a motorcycle. The manhunt lasted for nearly a day and ended with Stancil's arrest on a Florida beach.
"Mr. Stancil had a calculated plan," Sutton said.
After the shooting, police found the motorcycle abandoned in a median on Interstate 95 in Lumberton, North Carolina, about 80 miles south of Goldsboro, where the college is located.
Police figured Stancil was headed south and alerted law enforcement along the East Coast. After releasing a photo of Stancil with a facial tattoo he had gotten as recently as Saturday, police said people reported several sightings of him.
An arrest photo of Stancil released by Florida authorities show him 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.
"That's something we pretty much exclusively see in the neo-Nazi world," Levin said. "Those who get facial tattoos, tend to be the uppermost, anti-social part of the scale."
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 found Stancil sleeping on a beach with a knife, authorities said. Police don't know how he got there.
"Our officer did a well-being check on the subject and woke him up," Tamra Marris, a spokeswoman for Volusia County Beach Safety Ocean Rescue said in an email. "Initially the subject had a knife on him and was ordered to put the knife down. The subject complied with the officer's orders and the subject 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 charges. His first court appearance in Florida was scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.
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. "If he had other reasons or motives, it was not clear when he worked here. He worked very well with Ron; he worked very well with my other employees."
Hood said Lane's partner of 12 years had disappeared in July and his remains were found several months later. Police said Chuck Tobin killed himself.
"When I made the announcement across the employee email that Chuck had been found, he (Lane) said he was OK with me saying Chuck was his partner for 12 years," Hood said. "The administration was a little concerned. But Ron wanted it to be said that way."
Meanwhile, students returned to class at the college Tuesday.
"It's a day of healing. We will be paying personal tributes to Ron Lane," school spokeswoman Tara Humphries said.
More on AOL.com:
Rita Wilson has breast cancer, undergoes double mastectomy
Walter Scott's passenger, Pierre Fulton, breaks his silence
Kim Kardashian, Kanye West visit famed church in Jerusalem
Southeast Asia celebrates new year with gigantic water festival