An Australian man is dead in Oklahoma, allegedly gunned down by at least two black people who told police they did it because they were bored.
But these three middle class high school students were also also immersed in a culture of drugs and murder and guns. And even black nationalism. All from the comfort of their middle class homes in this overwhelmingly white area.
Chris Lane came to America to play baseball. Last week, this lifelong athlete was jogging in an upscale neighborhood in Duncan, Okla.,when police say he passed James Edwards, Chancey Luna, and Michael Jones.
They got into an SUV, followed Lane, and shot him in the back. He died shortly afterward.
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TV and newspaper reporters from Australia are flooding this tiny town. They are providing a level of detail unusual in what could be considered a routine murder. Lane was not their only intended victim.
They started out killing an animal. Then moved on to Lane. The three were on their way to another home when police received a break. A distraught local parent called to say, “Several juveniles are coming over to kill my son”. When police got to the scene they found a car matching the description of the one carrying Lane’s attackers, parked in a nearby church parking lot.
Police say they also used video to identify the trio.
While Lane’s distraught friends and relatives from Australia try to make sense of the murder, friends and family of the alleged killers are saying they were good kids who are not guilty of anything.
Chancey Luna’s mother found him at home when she returned from work shortly after 3 p.m. Last Friday. He was playing video games with his soon-to-be stepbrother, said Jennifer Luna.
Police believe 16-year old Luna was the trigger man. But Jennifer Luna says her son is a good boy.
“He’s not talking,” she told an Australian news crew. “He’s not going to talk:
That’s just how he is. My son is actually a good kid. You can ask anyone who knows him. He’s very respectful. Every kid likes to fight. Everyone does. That’s just how life is.
Besides fighting, Chancey — who on Facebook calls himself “Baby Drake” — also likes to talk with his friends on social media. Pictures on him on his Facebook page show the tattooed Chancey flashing gang signs and drinking beer. His Facebook page also displays a red, yellow and green flag with the words Black Power inside it.
The Facebook page belonging to James Edwards is less political and more immersed in the music, drugs, sex, and violence that typify contemporary hip hop culture.
Edwards told his father he “did not do it.” And his father agreed his son was not that type of person. He told reporters his son was a good boy, involved in athletics.
Perhaps the elder Edwards should take a look at his son’s Facebook and Twitter pages. On Facebook, he calls himself “Lilbuggy,” but his screen name is “blackcoon44.” On Twitter, he goes by @JamesAKABug.
Edwards’ Facebook and Twitter pages are still open to the public, full of hundreds of pictures of him and his crew. Some pictures show the young man holding wads of $100 bills. Another shows a gun, still others him and his friends — and perhaps even his family — flashing gang signs. One picture features Edwards posing in a mask and with gold chains.
Both of Edwards’ social media pages are filled with direct references to violence, drugs, and betray a admiration for rappers who glorify the thug life, especially 17-year old rapper Chief Keef from Chicago.
Edwards was fond of quoting this Chief Keef lyric: “A snitch n**ga, that’s sh*t I don’t like.” But Edwards has also written his own “lyrics,” extolling guns, violence, drugs, and sex. Three days before the killing, he posted on Twitter, “With my n**gas when it’s time to start taken life’s” and “all the pussy n**gas seem to pack a pistol.” Last month on Facebook he wrote, “We play for keeps. I ain’t scared to die, n**ga.”
But one post sticks out. Amid all the chest-thumping, the fake thuggery, and wannabe gang posing is poignant plea made a month ago. “Somebody pray for me.”
Several of his friends say they have.
Colin Flaherty is the author of the best-selling “White Girl Bleed a Lot.”