OKLAHOMA CITY – An Australian man attending an Oklahoma college on a baseball scholarship was shot and killed in what police described Monday as a random act of violence by three "bored" teenagers who decided to kill someone for the fun of it.
Christopher Lane, 22, of Melbourne, was found dead Friday while visiting the town of Duncan, where his girlfriend lives. Three boys, ages 15, 16, and 17, are in custody and face a court appearance Tuesday afternoon.
Duncan Police Chief Danny Ford said Monday a woman called 911 after she saw Lane stagger across the road and fall to the ground in the south-central Oklahoma town of about 24,000 residents. Ford said Lane, who was staying with his girlfriend and her family in Duncan, had jogged past a home where the three boys were staying. He said the shooting appeared to be completely random.
Autopsy results are pending. Ford wouldn't say how many times Lane was shot.
Ford said the 17-year-old has given a detailed confession to police, but that investigators have not been able to locate the murder weapon.
"They saw Christopher go by, and one of them said: 'There's our target,'" Ford said. "The boy who has talked to us said: 'We were bored and didn't have anything to do, so we decided to kill somebody.'
"They followed him in the car to that area, shot him in the back and drove off," Ford said.
He said the district attorney is expected to file first-degree murder charges Tuesday, and all three will be arraigned at Stephens County District Court. It wasn't known if the three will be charged as adults or as juveniles.
Sarah Harper, Lane's girlfriend, told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. that the two had only returned to the United States from Australia last week.
"He didn't deserve any of this," Harper told the network. "It's heartbreaking that it was such a random choice those guys made that drastically altered so many lives in the process."
Lane attended East Central University in Ada, about 85 miles west of Duncan. He started 14 games at catcher last year and was entering his senior year.
"He was an absolute joy to coach," baseball coach Dino Rosato said in a statement issued by the school. "Chris was an extremely well-respected teammate. ... He set a great example for all of his teammates, but more importantly for the younger players. He was a mature student-athlete who his teammates could look to for advice and support.
Ford told Oklahoma City television station KOCO that one of the teenagers said they shot Lane for "the fun of it."
The chief told the Duncan Banner that police detained the three boys near a car and had retrieved a dismantled shotgun from the vehicle, but that Lane had been shot with another gun that had not yet been found. He said police have had "problems" with two of the three juveniles previously. He did not elaborate.
Peter Lane, the boy's father, told Australian broadcasters 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.