These photos released by the Stephens County Sheriffs Office show, left to right, James Edwards Jr., Chancey Luna and Michael Jones. (stephens county sheriffs office)
Prosecutors on Tuesday charged two teenagers accused of gunning down an Australian student in Oklahoma for the “fun of it” with first-degree murder, and a third teen with being an accessory.
Officials say 22-year-old Christopher Lane, who was visiting the U.S. on a baseball scholarship at East Central University, was jogging along a road in Duncan, Okla., after visiting his girlfriend on Friday when he was shot in the back, allegedly by the teens.
Terri Moore from the Stephens County Courthouse says 16-year-old Chancey Allen Luna and 15-year-old James Francis Edwards Jr. were charged as adults with first-degree murder. Both are being held without bond.
Bond was set at $1 million for 17-year-old Michael Jones, who allegedly drove the vehicle carrying the other suspects. He was charged with the use of a vehicle in the discharge of a weapon and accessory to murder after the fact. Jones is considered a youthful offender but will be tried in adult court.
Prosecutor Jason Hicks called the boys “thugs” in court, saying Luna was sitting in the rear seat of a car when he pulled the trigger on a .22 caliber revolver and shot Lane once in the back. Hicks said Jones was driving the vehicle and Edwards was in the passenger seat.
Edwards has had run-ins with the law previously and had been in court Friday, the day of the killing, to sign documents related to his juvenile probation.
“I believe this man is a threat to the community and should not be let out,” Hicks said as he requested no bond for Edwards. “He thinks it’s all a joke.”
Though Jones was not charged with murder, he claimed in open court Tuesday that “he pulled the trigger.” The judge ordered him to remain quiet and said it was not the day to discuss the case.
“I’m appalled,” Hicks said after the hearing. “This is not supposed to happen in this community.”
Police Chief Dan Ford said Lane appeared to have been chosen at random, saying in a variety of media interviews since Friday’s killing that one suspect told officers that he and other boys were bored and that they followed Lane and killed him for “the fun of it.”
A woman tried CPR and paramedics arrived on scene, but Lane was pronounced dead an hour later.
“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,” Ford told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, according to AFP.
“[They] came up from behind and basically shot him in the back with a small caliber weapon, then sped away,” Ford added.
Richard Rhodes, a builder who discovered Lane lying face down, said he was targeted with a .22 caliber revolver.
Police tracked the teens down using surveillance video from a business that is near the shooting scene, KOCO reports.
On one of the alleged killer’s Facebook pages, investigators found the message: “Bang. Two drops in two hours,” Sky News reports.
“I think they were on a killing spree. We would have had more bodies that night if we didn’t get them,” Ford said in an interview with the Australian Associated Press.
Peter Lane told Australian media there was no explanation for his son’s death.
“It is heartless and to try to understand it is a short way to insanity,” he said.
The mother of the 16-year-old accused in the killing said her son and his two friends were part of a “wannabe gang,” but insisted that he is not a killer, KOCO reports.
The father of the 15-year-old also denied his son had a role in Lane’s death, but said the boy had run-ins with the law before, News.com.au reports.
On Tuesday, Lane’s girlfriend, Sarah Harper, laid a wooden cross at a memorial that formed along the road where Duncan was killed.
“We just thought we’d leave it,” Harper said. “This is his final spot.” (Continued below)
Harper said she doesn’t know who started the memorial, but it means a lot. East Central University is setting up a fund so Lane’s parents, who are still in Australia, can come to Oklahoma.The school is in Ada, about 85 miles west of Duncan. Lane started 14 games at catcher last year and was entering his senior year.
“Chris was a well-liked young man here on campus. His teammates thought a lot of him. Seemed to be a bright, promising student,” Dr. Jeff Williams, the athletic director at East Central University, told KOCO.
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?”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.