It is a chillingly simple motive: Police say an Australian collegiate baseball player attending school in the U.S. was killed by bored teens in Duncan, Okla., for “the fun of it.”
James Francis Edwards Jr., 15, and Chancey Allen Luna, 16, were charged as adults with murder on Tuesday. A third teenager, 17, was charged as a juvenile with being an accessory to murder after the fact and with firing a weapon.
Family and friends on two continents mourned 22-year-old Christopher Lane, who was being remembered as a wonderful young man whose life ended too soon.
His girlfriend tearfully laid a cross at a streetside memorial in Oklahoma, while half a world away, his team in Australia placed flowers at home plate.
Lane, who was visiting the town of Duncan, where his girlfriend and her family live, had passed a home where the teens were staying and that apparently led to him being gunned down at random, Police Chief Danny Ford said Monday. One of the teens in the group has given a detailed confession to police.
“They saw Christopher go by, and one of them said: ‘There’s our target,'” Ford said. “The boy who has talked to us said, ‘We were bored and didn’t have anything to do, so we decided to kill somebody.'”
He said they followed Lane, a student from Melbourne attending college on a baseball scholarship, in a car and shot him in the back before driving off.
Ford told the television station KOCO in Oklahoma City that one of the teens said they shot Lane for “the fun of it.”
Australia’s Herald Sun newspaper said Lane’s former team, Essendon Baseball Club, would turn its Sunday game against the University of Melbourne into a tribute to Lane to raise money for the family. Roses and a baseball were placed on the home plate on Monday with the message, “A wonderful young man taken too soon. Why?”
Police said witnesses rushed to help Lane after hearing a shot Friday and seeing him stagger and collapse on a road in Duncan, a south-central Oklahoma town of about 24,000 residents.
“He was face down on the ground and he was shot in the back with a .22 revolver,” builder Richard Rhodes told Australian broadcasters. “I had another lady stop and we tried CPR on him. And he passed away right here.”
Harper said she and Lane had only returned to the United States from Australia last week.
Lane attended East Central University in Ada, about 85 miles west of Duncan. He started 14 games at catcher last year and was entering his senior year.