The three teens accused of gunning down a promising Australian student in the street ‘just for the fun of it’ were today named and pictured.
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.
The youths facing first-degree murder charges have been named as Chancey Luna, 16, James Edwards, 15, and Michael Jones, 17.
Chris 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’.
Duncan 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.
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.
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’.
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.’
Paramedics were quickly on the scene, but the student was pronounced dead an hour after the shooting.
The young couple, who started dating in 2009, 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.
‘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.’
The student’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.’
According to the Herald Sun, the accused are being held in Stephens County Jail and are due to be charged today.
Chief Ford said one of the suspects had admitted to the killing, but refused to divulge who had pulled the trigger.
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 – the town has had only one other murder the past five years.
The three boys were said to be 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.
However, ammunition for the handgun was found under the bonnet and video surveillance footage showed the boys hiding a weapon in car’s engine.