The real story is starting to come out, and it lines up well with what the kids at the school have been saying (I know two of them).
What a sad story -- group of middle class, middle school kids join one of the LA gangs over the internet, one wants out, which necessitates a just-short-of-fatal pummeling, so when he's threatened with it he opts to take out the one making the threats.
I think just being part of one of those gangs should be a crime, and the whole group should be punished for that (maybe it already is, I don't know). But once you're in that situation -- where you're told you're going to be almost fatally pounded for getting out of the gang -- what should he have done?
With the mind of a 35-year old guy, I'd probably tell my parents and go to the police, change my name, and hope that we'd move out of state, then carry pepper spray (or an air horn or something) around in case they ever cornered me. I doubt they could, though, since I'd probably never leave the house.
But can we really expect a 14-year old to think like a 35-year old adult? Maybe that was really the result of his best thinking.
I have to go back to what John Holman told me years ago when we found out just how bad someone else's life had become, roughly quoted: "But it's never just one bad decision that ruins someone's life -- it's a series of bad decisions, every day going down those same lame paths instead of waking up and deciding, every day, to make today different and better."
This kid didn't wake up one morning and find himself a member of a gang -- I'm sure he lied awake in bed more than one night thinking about whether he should do it. And it's those times when we're all alone and deciding what to do that make all the difference.