ABC’s Juju Chang calls it, “a labor of love.” As a reporter, that can be hard to come by.
Tonight’s “20/20” devotes the hour to the case of Brandon McInerney and Larry King. On February 12, 2008, 14-year-old McInerney brought a loaded gun into his Ventura, CA classroom and shot his classmate, King, twice in the head. McInerney, the child of drug addicts, had bullied King for months. King, a foster child also from an abusive home, had a school-yard crush on his killer.
But the hour goes beyond the crime and the punishment, and takes a broader look at what makes children different, at what makes one child a bully and another, the bullied. And Chang says this tale has even more than that. “It started out as a bullying story and became about child abuse and drug abuse,” Chang tells TVNewser. “It is layered so thickly … it’s a story you can dig your claws into and
grabs you, and doesn’t let go.” Even three years later. After the trial, and the outcome: a hung jury. “Each side has such a compelling case,” says Chang. “It was one of those stories where the adults let those children down.”
Chang and her crew traveled not just to Ventura County, CA, for this story but to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, home to the first public middle school where gay students are accepted. “We were the first and only crew inside the school,” says Chang. “We did this incredible piece where we embedded with the students as the school was at risk of being closed.”
“This is an hour of storytelling that really gets at a lot of complicated issues in our society,” says Chang. “It’s a message of tolerance.”
- Linda Stasi in today’s New York Post gives tonight’s show 4 stars, writing, “Don’t miss it.” “20/20” airs tonight on ABC at 10pmET/9pmCT.