Promising baseball student gunned down after a visit to his sweetheart
- James Edwards, 15, and Chancey Luna, 16, charged with first-degree murder
- Michael Jones, 17, charged with accessory to murder
- Parents of teens accused deny their sons are involved
- Police believe they were going to shoot someone else afterwards
- One of them tweeted they were going to ‘start taking lives’
- Tribute from heartbroken girlfriend says ‘I love you so much babe’
- Flowers adorn the scene of the shooting that has left the town stunned
Two of the teens accused of gunning down a promising Australian student in the street ‘just for the fun of it’ were today charged with first-degree murder and the third as an accessory.
Chris Lane, 22, originally from Melbourne, was jogging in the small town of Duncan in Oklahoma on Friday when he was shot in the back and left to die in the gutter.
James Edwards, 15, and Chancey Luna, 16, are charged as adults with first-degree murder and are being held without bond. Michael Jones, 17, is charged with use of a vehicle while a weapon was discharged and accessory after the fact of first degree murder. His bond is set at $1million
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Murder charge: Chancey Luna, left, and James Edwards have been charged as adults for murder
Staying in touch: Harper said that she has been in constant contact with Lane’s relatives
The Australian was in the U.S. on a baseball scholarship and was returning from a visit to his girlfriend when he was senselessly gunned down because the teens were ‘bored’.
AUSTRALIAN POLITICIAN CALLS FOR TOURISTS TO ‘THINK TWICE’ BEFORE TRAVELING TO THE UNITED STATES
Former Deputy Prime Minister Tim Fischer called for his fellow countrymen to think of this shooting when they are planning a trip to the United States.
‘People (who) are thinking of going to the USA on business, vacation, trips, should think carefully about it given the statistical facts you are 15 times more likely to be shot dead in the USA than in Australia per capita per million people,’ he told CNN’s Piers Morgan.
‘It is another example of murder and mayhem on Main Street.’
For America’s part, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said that the federal government is ‘deeply saddened’ by Lane’s death but she did not comment on any specific action.
‘This is clearly a tragic death, and we extend our condolences to the family and the loved ones. We understand that local authorities are focused on bringing those responsible to justice. Clearly, we would support that,’ she said at a briefing on Tuesday.
Police say it appears the boys were keeping a log of the crimes on their Facebook pages and believe they killed an animal before shooting Chris.
They also think they were planning to kill again just four hours after his murder.
James Edwards tweeted on last Tuesday – just two days before the shooting – that he was ‘With my n*****s when it’s time to start taken life’s [sic].’
His Facebook profile is filled with pictures of him making gang signs, holding guns and wads of cash and he even has a Vimeo of him brandishing a shotgun.
Chancey Luna’s Facebook also features pictures of him – sometimes with Edwards – making gang signs
Police chief Ford said: ‘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.
‘(They) came up from behind and basically shot him in the back with a small caliber weapon, then sped away.’
Witnesses saw him stumble across the road and collapse in the gutter.
According to police investigators, one of the alleged killers had left a chilling message on Facebook prior to the shooting.
It read: ‘Bang. Two drops in two hours.’
According to Sky News, the 16-year-old allegedly confessed to the killing saying it had been done ‘for the fun of it’.
Arrested: Chancey Luna, 16, left, and James Edwards, 15, right, are two of the teens accused in the shooting of Australian student Chris Lane
Charged: Michael Jones, 17, faces charges of being an accessory after murder
The three are due to face first-degree murder charges, which carry a potential death penalty in Oklahoma.
Chief Ford added: ‘They wanted to be Billy Bob Badasses.
‘I think they were on a killing spree. We would have had more bodies that night if we didn’t get them.’
But two of the accused teens’ parents insist they were not involved in the killing, according to News.com.au.
‘That’s my baby boy,’ said the mother of Chancey Luna, who is accused of firing the single bullet from a handgun into Chris’ back.
She said her son was not in a gang and could not have been the one who pulled the trigger – as has been suggested – and doesn’t even believe he is involved in the shooting.
James Edwards’ father said he didn’t think his son played a part in it and, though he admits the 15-year-old has been in trouble with the law before, he dismissed it as ‘kid stuff’ and described him as a good boy.
‘He’s not the type of person. He likes to wrestle. He’s into sports,’ he said.
News.com.au reports that Edwards’ mother is in jail and Luna’s stepfather and brother died last year.
Paramedics were on the scene quickly, but the student was pronounced dead an hour after the shooting.
Accused: Pictures on James Edwards’ Facebook account show him with guns and giving gang signs
James Edwards’ Twitter page: He posted on Tuesday – just two days before the shooting – that he was ‘With my n*****s when it’s time to start taking life’s [sic]
Money: Pictures of bundles of hundred dollar notes are also posted on his Facebook
Chancey Luna, left, and James Edwards, right, both have pictures on their social networking sites showing them talking on ‘phones’ which are actually wads of cash
The young couple, who started dating four years ago, had only been back in the U.S. for three days after visiting Mr Lane’s family in Melbourne.
Ms Harper posted an emotional tribute on Facebook, describing their time together as ‘the most amazing of my life’.
She wrote: ‘I love you so much babe. From 2009 until forever you will always be mine and in a very special and protected place in my heart.’
She later added: ‘It’s a very angry yet extremely sad time. No one deserves to die that way. Not even the boys involved.
Promising student: Lane was in the United States on a baseball scholarship and the pair had been dating since 2009
Smitten: The couple had been together since 2009. Sarah Harper described their time as ‘the most amazing of my life’
‘Don’t get me wrong, I want them to rot in hell, but no one should be blindly taken from the back so unexpectedly and without any reason.’
Lane’s devastated father Peter said: ‘There’s not going to be any good come out of this because it was just so senseless.
‘There wasn’t anything he did or could have done. He was an athlete going for a jog like he would do five or six days a week in terms of his training schedule.
‘To try and understand it is a short way to insanity.’
Mr Lane, 22, who grew up in the Oak Park area of Melbourne, was jogging through an expensive area of Duncan, when he was shot at the junction of Country Club Road and Twilight Beach Road.
A memorial of flowers has been left at the scene.
The murder has shocked residents as the town has had only one other murder the past five years.
Investigation: Police cordoned off the scene around the shooting on Friday while they conducted their investigation
The three boys were traveling in a black Ford Focus with a white sticker in the front of the driver’s windscreen.
A manhunt was launched after Mr Lane was gunned down, and the investigating officers received a breakthrough when a concerned parent phoned to say several youngsters had just threatened to kill her son.
Police quickly arrived at the scene and found a car matching the description of the one they were looking for in an adjacent church car park.
A shotgun was found in the car, although the handgun is still missing. Ammunition for the handgun was found under the bonnet and video surveillance footage showed the boys hiding a weapon in car’s engine.