Monday, April 21, 2014
By Hailey Branson-Potts and Matt Pearce / Los Angeles Times
DUNCAN, Okla. — Even before his name became known worldwide -- before authorities said he and two other boys killed an Australian college student because they were "bored" -- the boy known as "Bug" had changed.
Booking photos show, from left, James Francis Edwards Jr., 15, Michael Dewayne Jones, 17, and Chancey Allen Luna, 16, all of Duncan, Okla., who have been charged in connection with the killing of 22-year-old Australian collegiate baseball player Christopher Lane.
The Associated Press
A memorial to Christopher Lane is shown along the road where he was shot and killed in Duncan, Okla. Lane, an Australian who was on a baseball scholarship at East Central University in Ada, Okla., was in Duncan visiting his girlfriend when he was gunned down.
The Associated Press
LANE FAMILY FUND EXCEEDS $100,000
The random slaying of an Australia native who came to the U.S. to play baseball and earn a college degree has touched hearts in the U.S. and beyond, as tens of thousands of dollars streamed into a fund designed to help Chris Lane's parents bring their son back home.
Lane, a 22-year-old student at East Central University, was shot in the back and killed last week as he was jogging in an affluent neighborhood in Duncan, in south-central Oklahoma. By Thursday afternoon, a fund set up to help his parents had already amassed more than $107,000, overwhelming the friend who started it.
East Central also set up a separate memorial fund to honor Lane; and a private memorial service was being planned for Saturday at Oklahoma Christian University in Edmond, where Lane's girlfriend is a student.
"He's someone you wanted to go out with on a Friday night and you want to be the godfather of your son one day, he's one of those kind of guys," said Brock Werdel, a former teammate of Lane's who is helping organize the service.
-- The Associated Press
His sister saw it; so did family friends: His American Eagle clothes and sweet demeanor were replaced about six months ago by drooping pants, the do-rags, and a vile stream of braggadocio, sexism and racism the 15-year-old unleashed over his social media accounts.
In an Oklahoma town of about 23,000 that was 82 percent white, Bug, who is black, sometimes tweeted things like 90 percent of white ppl are nasty. #HATE THEM.
A female member of Faith Church in Duncan recalled later that he'd told her, "I can't go to your church anymore because my god is black."
"I don't understand. God, I wish I could have just got to him," Danielle Crudup, 20, said of her little brother, whose full name is James Francis Edwards Jr. "I tried to talk and talk and talk to him, and it just seemed like he wouldn't listen."
Still, she said, "I'd never in a million years expect that he'd be sitting in jail on a murder charge."
'HE THOUGHT IT WAS COOL'
Authorities have not tied race to the killing of Christopher Lane, a strapping young athlete from Melbourne attending East Central University in Ada, Okla., about 80 miles away. Lane was out for a jog Friday when he was shot once in the back by a gunman in a passing car.
Authorities say one of the boys said they targeted Lane, who is white, because they were bored and had nothing to do.
Edwards and Chancey Allen Luna, 16, who also is black, were charged with first-degree murder. At the police station, Edwards danced while they were booking him, said Duncan Police Chief Daniel P. Ford. "He thought it was cool," Ford said.
Michael Dewayne Jones, 17, who is white, was charged with lesser counts -- accessory to the murder and use of a vehicle in discharge of weapon. According to court documents, Jones was the driver and told police he knew who shot Lane but was worried he'd "get killed" if he snitched.
With what appears to have been a single pull of the trigger, the southern Oklahoma town of Duncan has been heaved into a cultural and political vortex, one that has Australians making threats about boycotting U.S. tourism while residents loudly defend their gun rights and quietly talk about race and the changing way of life in their state.
Duncan is a town that has seen the ups and downs of oil booms, as well as the prolonged invasion of drug use that has crept through the rest of middle America. "This town is a town where it's drugs or Jesus," said Cole Hamer, 20. "You either got the drugs, or you got the churchgoers, and that's what it is."
The killing also has laid bare divisions in town. The three alleged assailants came from what is known as the gritty part of town; a prosecutor called them "thugs." Lane had been visiting his girlfriend's family in Duncan's north end, a prim neighborhood with brick homes and big yards.
After he was shot, Lane tumbled into a ditch. Blood covered the back of his gray shirt. The 23-year-old exchange student, a catcher on his university baseball team, turned blue and stopped breathing as onlookers gave him CPR. He was soon pronounced dead at a local hospital.
Any shooting is a shock in Duncan, which can go years without a slaying. "If you'd have told me a week ago there was a gang in Duncan, I'd have chuckled," said Mark Morrow, a youth pastor at Faith Church who has known Edwards since he was a boy. "There are a lot more rednecks than gangs."
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