August 20, 2013

Police: Teens killed Australian baseball player for 'the fun of it'

Christopher Lane, 22, was visiting his girlfriend and her family in Oklahoma when he was shot in the back by three boys who said they were bored, police say.

The Associated Press

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An undated photo of player Chris Lane provided by the Essendon Baseball Club.

AP

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This combination made with booking photos provided by the Stephens County, Okla., Sheriffs Department, shows, from left, James Francis Edwards Jr., 15, Michael Dewayne Jones, 17, and Chancey Allen Luna, 16, all of Duncan, Okla. The three teenagers have been charged in connection with the killing of 22-year-old Australian collegiate baseball player Christopher Lane, 22. Luna and Edwards were charged with first-degree murder and, under Oklahoma law, will be tried as adults. Jones was accused of using a vehicle in the discharge of a weapon and accessory to first-degree murder after the fact. He is considered a youthful offender but will be tried in adult court. (AP Photo/Stephens County Sheriffs Department)

Duncan police Chief Dan Ford has said the boys wanted to overcome a boring end to their summer vacation — classes in Duncan resumed Tuesday — and that Jones told officers they were bored and killed Lane for "the fun of it."

Family and friends on two continents were mourning Lane, who gave up pursuit of an Australian football career to pursue his passion for baseball, an American pastime. His girlfriend, Sarah Harper, tearfully laid a cross at a streetside memorial in Duncan, while half a world away, an impromptu memorial grew at the home plate he protected as a catcher on his youth team.

"We just thought we'd leave it," Harper said as she visited the memorial in Duncan. "This is his final spot."

His old baseball team, Essendon, scheduled a memorial game for Sunday to raise funds for Lane's parents as they worked to have their boy's remains sent home.

Tony Cornish, president of the Essendon Baseball Club, said Lane played with the club for 12 years.

"He started out as a T-baller, right from the age of 7, " said Cornish.

Cornish said Lane was part of the club until he left to attend college in the U.S.

"Chris Lane was a good kid, just a great all-around guy," Cornish said. "We're still all in shock here."

Meanwhile, St. Bernard's College in Essendon, where Lane was a student, is planning a memorial Mass for Lane in November.

Melbourne's Herald Sun newspaper reported that roses and a baseball were placed Monday on the home plate where Lane played as a youth with the message: "A wonderful young man taken too soon. Why?"

Tim Fischer, former Australia deputy prime minister, criticized the National Rifle Association and asked Australians to avoid the U.S. as a way to put pressure on its Congress to act on gun control.

"Tourists thinking of going to the USA should think twice," Fischer told the Herald Sun. "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."

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