Three juveniles were charged Tuesday in Friday’s shooting death of Christopher Lane in Duncan, Okla. Lane, 22, was an Australian student who played baseball for Oklahoma’s East Central University. The case has attracted international attention as a result of statements by police suggesting an extraordinary disregard for human life on the part of the suspects.
With the simplest of motives — breaking up the boredom of an Oklahoma summer — three teenagers followed an Australian collegiate baseball player who was attending school in the U.S. and killed him with a shot to the back for “the fun of it,” prosecutors said Tuesday as they charged two of the teens with murder. . . .
Family and friends on two continents mourned 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,” Sarah Harper said as she visited the memorial on Duncan’s north, well-to-do side. “This is his final spot.”
Flowers, photos and an Australian flag already adorned the roadside in a tribute to Lane.
“I don’t know anybody who’s left this. It means a lot,” Harper said.
Police Chief Dan Ford has said the boys wanted to overcome a boring end to their summer vacation — classes in Duncan resumed Tuesday.
Lane’s teammates and coaches remembered him as a natural leader:
“Chris was like a brother to many of us, he was someone we could all learn something from,” Duncan native and Lane’s teammate at Redlands Community College Kale Thaxton said. “He was one of my best friends, so easy to like and he could start a conversation with anybody. He always had a smile on his face that would light up the room. He was someone we all looked up to.” . . .
While he had no plans of playing baseball as a career, Lane made his mark on the sport at an early age. His father Peter Lane put it best – “he played for the love of it.” Lane got noticed by Redlands Community College head coach Mark Newgent, who flew across the world to Melbourne, Australia, to meet with Lane and his family to sign him.
“I believe people are born to lead, and getting to know Chris in Australia, I knew pretty early on that he had the personality and charisma to be a leader,” Newgent said. “He was a good baseball player, but his physical abilities were overshadowed by his leadership skills. He was just the best. He could see where other players were coming from, speak to them in his own way, and calm them down in key situations.”
In Australia, which has relatively strict gun control laws, one politician responded to Lane’s death by criticizing the National Rifle Association and U.S. gun policy:
Tim Fischer, who served as deputy prime minister under John Howard from 1996 to 1999, urged Australians not to travel to the United States. He said that such a boycott would send a message about the need for tighter gun control regulations in the United States, according to News.com.au.
“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,” Fischer said this week. “This is the bitter harvest and legacy of the policies of the NRA ... ”
As deputy prime minister, Fisher led Australia’s gun control reforms in the late ‘90s alongside Howard.