Skip to main content

911 caller: Oklahoma killing may be gang-related

By Mariano Castillo and Melissa Gray, CNN
updated 11:10 PM EDT, Fri August 23, 2013
Christopher Lane, from Australia, was gunned down in Duncan, Oklahoma, while he was out jogging last week. Police say he was killed by three teens who said they had nothing better to do. Police have now charged the three teens in Lane's death. Christopher Lane, from Australia, was gunned down in Duncan, Oklahoma, while he was out jogging last week. Police say he was killed by three teens who said they had nothing better to do. Police have now charged the three teens in Lane's death.
HIDE CAPTION
Charges filed in death of Australian student
Charges filed in death of Australian student
Charges filed in death of Australian student
Charges filed in death of Australian student
Charges filed in death of Australian student
Charges filed in death of Australian student
Charges filed in death of Australian student
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: The town's mayor says he doesn't feel it was a hate crime
  • DA says the case will not be prosecuted as a hate crime
  • One man says it may have been gang-related

(CNN) -- As an Oklahoma town comes to grips with the apparent senseless killing of an Australian baseball player on its streets, one man is offering a possible motive: gang violence.

James Johnson says the three boys now charged in the shooting death of Christopher Lane tried to recruit his son into a gang, then threatened to kill him if he refused. He said he thinks Lane was killed as part of a gang initiation.

"I don't think it was for fun. I don't think it was at random," Johnson told Australia-based Fairfax Media from his home in Duncan.

D.A.: No evidence of a hate crime

911 call released in 'thrill kill'
Suspect's sister: He is 'not vicious'
Girlfriend: Chris Lane had big dreams
Diplomat: Lane's death not about race
Australian student's death a race issue?

The case posed questions of race early on because two of the three suspects are black and Lane was white. One of the suspects allegedly posted a message on Twitter in April saying he hated white people.

Suspect tweeted: "time to start taken life's"

District Attorney Jason Hicks acknowledged Friday the post seems racial in nature, but said the case will not be prosecuted as a hate crime.

"At this point, the evidence does not support the theory that Christopher Lane was targeted based upon his race or nationality," Hicks said in a statement.

Duncan Mayor Gene Brown said he doesn't think Lane's killing was a hate crime, either. He told CNN's "Erin Burnett OutFront" the crime is just the result of bad choices made by young people.

"I think everybody that lives here wishes it would not have happened in our community, regardless of what race" the victim is, Brown said. "I think that we are more concerned with just making sure that everything is taken care of for (Lane's) family and that they get all of the things that they need in order to get him home safely and take care of their loved ones."

Suspects arrested after 911 call

It was Johnson who made the call to police that resulted in the arrests of the three suspects: James Edwards, Jr., 15, Chancey Luna, 16, and Michael Jones, 17.

Edwards and Luna are charged as adults with first-degree felony murder; Jones is charged with using a vehicle in the discharge of a weapon and accessory after the fact to first-degree murder.

Johnson was working on his truck in a church parking lot last Friday when the three teens drove up. He had just gotten off the phone with his son, Chris, who told his father about the threat on his life. Chris lives in a house with his mother across the street from the church.

It was two hours after Lane's death. Johnson, unaware of the crime, called 911 to report the teens had guns and had already threatened his son. He knew the boys -- and even mentioned Edwards by name in the call -- because the four teens had grown up together, he told Fairfax Media.

Police arrived and took the three into custody.

Police say Jones later told them, "We were bored and didn't have anything to do, so we decided to kill somebody."

Opinion: Negligent parents, lawbreaking kids

Edwards' older sister, Rachel Padilla, told CNN on Thursday that her brother hung around with some older guys who were thought to be in a gang, and that other people have told her Edwards was in one -- but she said she doesn't want to believe it.

Asked about it by CNN, Duncan Police Chief Danny Ford said there are no gang members in town. Brown, the mayor, said the town has been able to control gang activity.

"That's not to say that something might slip in on us, but I don't think we have a real problem with that," Brown told CNN. "If we do, we definitely need to look into it."

Shock and sorrow after shooting

Richard Rhodes, a 37-year-old contractor who was working on a house near where the shooting happened, tried to save Lane's life by performing CPR, he told Fairfax Media.

"I was like this, telling him, 'Buddy, stay with us; stay with us,'" Rhodes said, showing how he knelt next to the victim.

Lane, 23, was gasping for air, and soon the gasps stopped.

Rhodes and a woman together performed CPR until it became apparent that Lane had died, Fairfax reported.

Lane's friends and family are being invited to a memorial game in his honor Sunday, and a donation page has been set up to raise money for a memorial fund in his name.

A former student and classmate at East Central University, where Lane was studying, described him as "a charming guy, genuinely good person, with great character and had a love for life."

"As cliched as it sounds, Chris was the kind of guy you want your sons to grow up to be and that you want your daughters to marry. It just breaks my heart knowing how much more he could have brought to this world as a husband, father, son, brother and friend," Sam Malchar said.

CNN's Alina Machado, Randi Kaye, Hilary Whiteman and Josh Levs contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 12:46 PM EST, Sun December 21, 2014
The tragic killing of two cops could not have happened at a worse time for a city embroiled in a bitter public battle over police-community relations, Errol Louis says.
updated 8:27 AM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
North Korea warns the United States that U.S. "citadels" will be attacked, dwarfing the hacking attack on Sony that led to the cancellation of a comedy film's release.
updated 9:51 PM EST, Sun December 21, 2014
The gateway to Japan's capital, Tokyo Station, is celebrating its centennial this month -- and it's never looked better.
updated 11:21 AM EST, Sat December 20, 2014
More than 1.7 million children in conflict-torn areas of eastern Ukraine face an "extremely serious" situation, Unicef has warned.
updated 8:22 AM EST, Fri December 19, 2014
Boko Haram's latest abductions may meet a weary global reaction, Nigerian journalist Tolu Ogunlesi says.
updated 5:34 AM EST, Fri December 19, 2014
Drops, smudges, pools of blood are everywhere -- but in the computer room CNN's Nic Robertson reels from the true horror of the Peshawar school attack.
updated 9:43 PM EST, Wed December 17, 2014
The gunman behind the deadly siege in Sydney this week was not on a security watch list, and Australia's Prime Minister wants to know why.
updated 4:48 AM EST, Thu December 18, 2014
Bestselling author Marjorie Liu had set her sights on being a lawyer, but realized it wasn't what she wanted to do for the rest of her life.
updated 3:27 PM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
CNN's Matthew Chance looks into an HRW report saying Russia has "legalized discrimination against LGBT people."
updated 9:12 PM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
The Sydney siege has brought home some troubling truths to Australians. They are not immune to what are often called "lone-wolf" terror attacks.
Bill Cosby has kept quiet as sexual assault allegations mounted against him, but his wife, Camille, finally spoke out in defense of her husband.
updated 12:01 PM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT