August 23, 2013

Athlete's fatal shooting shakes Oklahoma town

Local residents ask how it happened that a student died simply because three teenagers were bored.

By Hailey Branson-Potts and Matt Pearce / Los Angeles Times

(Continued from page 1)

Chancey Luna, Michael Jones, James Edwards Jr
click image to enlarge

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

click image to enlarge

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


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

At Wright's Donuts on Old U.S. Highway 81 in Duncan early Wednesday, the talk over breakfast was over one thing: the shooting. There were soft-spoken questions about why the killing had to happen here and comments that race will inevitably be brought up, whether it was a factor in the shootings or not. (Luna once featured a "Black power" banner on his Facebook profile.)

At the doughnut shop, Brandon Arrington, 31, and Christian Perez, 23, took a table near the door with doughnuts and plastic containers of milk."Used to be, you could leave your doors unlocked, leave your truck unlocked," said Arrington. Those days are gone, at least in town, he said. He lives in the country.

He and Perez read over the local newspaper splashed with the teenagers' mug shots, shaking their heads. "Those guys are the reason people will lock up their guns," Perez said.


In the car allegedly used in the killing, police found a shotgun hidden beneath the spare tire in the trunk and .22-round ammo hidden inside the car's fuse box and beneath the engine's cold-air conductor, according to court documents. A single .22-caliber casing was found beneath a back seat cushion.

And now the questions mount: How could these kids go so wrong? What happened?

Ford has looked at Edwards' social media feeds and their racist comments. "Sometimes that's a motivation; sometimes it's an attention-getter," he said. "You can say anything you want on Facebook."

Crudup, Edwards' sister, has seen the comments on social media too and cannot reconcile the brother she knows with "all that stuff on his Facebook -- all that gangbanging."

Since the shooting, people have flooded Edwards' public Facebook page with comments. Some people denounce him as a racist, some leave their own racist comments, and others argue about guns and gun control.

Ford says he's been asked over and over by Australian officials and media why guns are so widely allowed, and he's been frustrated by it.

"These punk kids are going to take our freedom away? Give me a break," Ford said. "Why would we let three thugs do that?"


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