As the family of an Australian baseball player gunned down in Oklahoma mourns his death, police said today the college athlete was targeted by three teenagers who simply “wanted to see someone die.”
The suspects followed Chris Lane, 22, as he jogged alongside a road in Duncan, Okla., Friday afternoon, shot him in the back and left him to die on the side of the road, said Duncan Police Chief Danny Ford.
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Lane attended East Central University in Ada, Okla., on a baseball scholarship. He was in town visiting his girlfriend.
“He went by a residence where these three boys were, they picked him as a target, they went out and got in a vehicle and followed him.”
While no one saw the actual shooting, Ford said several people heard a gunshot and “saw Lane stagger across the road, go to a kneeling position and collapse on the side of the road.” Witnesses also reported seeing a black car speeding away from the scene.
Surveillance video from several businesses captured images of the suspects’ vehicle. They were apprehended a few hours after the shooting when police received a phone call that “there were three juveniles at a house with guns and wanting to kill somebody.”
Ford said officers found three teens in the vehicle, which was parked at a church parking lot near the home.
After the teens were arrested, Ford said the driver, who is 17, told police they were all at the scene of the slaying and that the 16-year-old suspect pulled the trigger.
“He said the motive was, ‘We were going to kill somebody,’” Ford told Australian radio station 3AW. “They decided all three of them were going to kill somebody.”
The three teens, ages 15, 16 and 17, have been charged with first-degree murder. They are Chancey Luna, James Edwards and Michael Jones.
Their parents yesterday protested their innocence.
Jennifer Luna, whose son is suspected of firing the fatal shot, claimed her son was at home saying: “My son is not that way. My son is a good kid.”
Luna calls himself “Baby Drake” on his Facebook page. Though most of his information is private, several photos show the tattooed teen flashing gang signs and drinking beer. His page also displays a red, yellow and green flag with the words Black Power inside it.
There’s also a picture of Africa, with the same color scheme — traditionally associated with black liberation movements — that features an upraised, clenched black fist.
Luna’s mother is white.
The Facebook page belonging to accused killer James Edwards is less political, focusing more on the drugs, sex and violence that dominate contemporary hip-hop culture.
He refers to himself as “Lilbuggy,” but his screen name is “blackcoon44.” On Twitter, he went by @JamesAKABug.
Warning: The following video contains graphic language:
Both Facebook and Twitter pages belonging to Edwards are filled with admiration for the rappers who glorify the thug life. The 17-year-old rapper Chief Keef from Chicago is often quoted: “A snitch nigga, that’s sh– I don’t like.”
Chief Keef is known for relentless references to guns, violence, drugs and sex in his popular music videos.
Edwards also made up his own lines: “With my niggas when it’s time to start taken life’s,” he posted on Twitter three days before the killing. And, “all the pussy niggas seem to pack a pistol.”
“I ain’t scared to die, nigga,” he retweeted last month.
Several of the tweets contained threats of violence: “YOU BETTA WATCH YO MOUTH NIGGA OR ILL MAKE A TRIP RIGHT NOW NIGGA ON DA SET ILL PUT HANDS ON YO ASS.”
Edwards’ Facebook and Twitter pages are filled with hundreds of pictures of him and his crew. Some pictures feature the young man holding wads of $100 bills. There’s a picture of a gun. And pictures of he and others flashing gang signs. You can also see Edwards posing in a mask and with gold chains.
His father told reporters his son was a good boy who was involved in sports.
At one point, the fresh-scrubbed Edwards even posed in what looked like a uniform at an ice-cream shop.
Chief Ford said the teens had no motive other than to “make a name for themselves,” and were on their way to another house to murder a second, unrelated victim when they were arrested.
“I think they were on a killing spree. We would have had more bodies that night if we didn’t get them,” said Ford.
They posted a message on Facebook prior to Lane’s killing: “bang, two drops in two hours.”
Lane’s death has rattled the quiet town of 24,000, where Ford said he couldn’t recall the last time there was a murder.
“I don’t think we average one [murder] a year,” he said. “Basically, we’re a rural Oklahoma community.”
Peter Lane told the Sydney Morning Herald his son was “a kid on the cusp of making his life.”
“There’s not going to be any good come out of this because it was just so senseless,” Lane said.
“He was an athlete going for a jog like he would do five or six days a week in terms of his training schedule,” he said. “It’s happened, it’s wrong and we just try and deal with it the best we can.
“To try and understand it is a short way to insanity.”
Australia’s former deputy prime minister Tim Fischer is urging tourists to boycott the U.S. in the wake of the shooting.
“Tourists thinking of going to the USA should think twice,” Fischer said.
“This is the bitter harvest and legacy of the policies of the NRA that even blocked background checks for people buying guns at gunshows.
“People should take this into account before going to the United States.
“I am deeply angry about this because of the callous attitude of the three teenagers (but) it’s a sign of the proliferation of guns on the ground in the USA.
“There is a gun for almost every American.”