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 life-long athlete was jogging in an upscale neighborhood in Duncan, Oklahoma 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 in the back. He died at the scene.
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 later that day when a distraught local parent called the police, saying “several juveniles are coming over to kill their son”. When police got to the scene they found a car matching the description of the one carrying Lane’s attackers 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 Chancey Luna was the triggerman. But Jennifer Luna says her sone 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 like to talk with his friends on social media. Though most of his information is private, several pictures that are still available – at https://www.facebook.com/chancey.luna/about — 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.
And next to that is a picture of Africa, with the same color scheme– traditionally associated with Black liberation movements — that features an upraised, clenched black fist.
Luna’s mother is white.
The Facebook page belonging to accused killer James Edwards is less political, and more immersed in the music and drugs and sex and violence that dominate contemporary hip hop culture.
James Edwards told his father he “did not do it.” And his father agreed his son was not that type of person.
Perhaps Mr. Edwards should take a look at his son’s Facebook and Twitter pages. On Facebook, he called himself “Lilbuggy,” but his screen name was “blackcoon44.” On Twitter, he went by @JamesAKABug
Both Facebook and Twitter pages belonging to Edwards are filled with direct references to violence, drugs, and admiration for the rappers who glorify the thug life. Especially the 17-year old rapper Chief Keef from Chicago.
Edwards was fond of quoting Chief Keef: “A snitch nigga, that’s shit I don’t like.”
Chief Keef is famous for relentless references to guns, violence, drugs and sex in his popular music videos.
But most of the time, Edwards was making up his own lines: “With my niggas when it’s time to start taken life’s,” he posted on Twitter three days before the killing. And, “all the pussy niggas seem to pack a pistol.”
Or, “we play for keeps,” he said on Facebook. Or, “I ain’t scared to die, nigga,” he retweeted last month.
Several of the Tweets contained threats of violence: “YOU BETTA WATCH YO MOUTH NIGGA OR ILL MAKE A TRIP RIGHT NOW NIGGA ON DA SET ILL PUT HANDS ON YO ASS.”
Edwards’ Facebook and Twitter pages are still open to the public, full of hundreds of pictures of him and his crew. Some pictures feature the young man holding wads of $100 bills. There’s a picture of a gun. And pictures of him and his friends — and perhaps even his family — flashing lots and lots of gang signs. You can also see Edwards posing in a mask and with gold chains.
His father told reporters his son was a good boy. Involved in athletics. His Facebook stream shows the younger Edwards in boxing and wrestling competitions. At one point, the fresh scrubbed Edwards even posed in what looked like a uniform at an ice cream shop.
At least one of his Twitter friends, Jadyn Edwards, is standing by him: “I love you baby. You can’t see this, but you’re not alone! We’ll get through this together! Stay strong.” And she finished her post with a heart.
But one post sticks out: Among and the fake thuggery and wannabe gang posing, Edwards issued a plea one month ago. “Somebody pray for me.”
Several friends said they did that every day and night for him already, without him even asking.
Check them out here: