DUNCAN — Three teenagers involved in the “thrill killing” of an East Central University baseball player from Australia were headed to another teen's house with guns just hours later, police said.
About four hours after last Friday's shooting of Christopher Lane, James Johnson called police to his home at 111 W Ash because three boys were outside with guns, police reported.
“Mr. Johnson called us and said there are these boys over here with guns, and I think they want to kill someone,” Police Chief Danny Ford told The Oklahoman on Wednesday. “He later told us that he thought they wanted to kill his son.”
Police arrested James Francis Edwards Jr. 15, Chancey Allen Luna, 16, and Michael Dewayne Jones, 17, near the home.
Edwards and Luna were charged Tuesday with first-degree murder, and Jones was charged with being an accessory to murder after the fact and use of a vehicle in the discharge of a weapon.
Authorities said the victim was shot at random as he was jogging. Prosecutors allege Luna fired the handgun while Jones drove and Edwards rode as a passenger.
James Johnson's daughter, Shanelle Johnson, 15, said Luna is her cousin and that she had grown up going to school with Edwards.
“My dad called the police because James and my brother had been having issues lately,” she said. “They had been fighting over a lot of ‘he said, she said' stuff. He just thought they were really suspicious outside our house.”
James Johnson, 52, told an Australian newspaper his son, Christopher, 17, had been threatened on Facebook.
“My son called me and said, ‘They're saying they're coming to kill me' so I called the police and they got here within about three minutes,” he told the Australian paper. “They threatened to kill my son because they are in a gang, the Crips, and were trying to get my son in it and I wouldn't let him do it. I told him he couldn't run with those boys. He's a little terrified.”
Shanelle Johnson said she doesn't think the three teens would have killed her brother, but she also never thought they would be capable of killing anyone.
“I would hope they wouldn't but I don't know honestly,” she said.
“It doesn't seem as unbelievable after hearing what they had done to someone else.”
The police chief said all three defendants have had run-ins with the law before.
He said Edwards went to the courthouse 30 minutes after the shooting to sign probation papers.
Ford said he doesn't believe any of the three teenagers were involved with gangs and he does not think the shooting was in any way gang-related.
Ford said the .22-caliber revolver used in the shooting has yet to be found. He said a photo of a gun on Edwards' Facebook page is not the gun police are looking for.
On Facebook, Lane's girlfriend wrote that she wants the teenagers involved in his fatal shooting to “rot in hell.”
“It's a very angry yet extremely sad time. No one deserves to die that way,” Sarah Harper wrote Monday. “Not even the boys involved. Don't get me wrong, I want them to rot in hell, but no one should be blindly taken from the back so unexpectedly and without any reason.”
The couple had been on vacation together in Australia this summer.
Her Facebook page features photos of them together.
He was shot Friday afternoon at random in Duncan, where he was visiting Harper.
“I love you so much babe,” Harper wrote on her Facebook page. “From 2009 until forever you will always be mine and in a very special and protected place in my heart.”
Waiting outside the Stephens County sheriff's office Wednesday, Danielle Crudup sat with friends talking over the whirlwind that has been her life since her brother, James, was arrested and charged with murder.
Crudup said she is disgusted because she knows he was raised better.
She said it was a simple matter of him falling into the wrong crowd on the wrong side of town in Duncan.
“He just started hanging out with all the wrong people and was influenced in a very negative way,” she said.
“I told him to be who you are; you have your own mind. At the end of the day, if something happens, where are all your new little friends gonna be?”
Crudup said her brother was a good student and a star athlete.
He had hoped to earn a scholarship for college through wrestling.
But Crudup says Edwards, Luna and Jones began mixing it up with people on the east side of Duncan at the Elm Terrace apartment complex.
She believes they got caught up in trying to impress the older crowd of guys that live out there by drinking and doing drugs.
“When he met people on the other side of town, complete 360,” she said. “It hurt me that he changed, but what hurts more is knowing where he came from.”
Ford said his officers are familiar with the Elm Terrace complex as they respond to calls out there on a regular basis.
“We are out there a considerable amount for fights, robbery, vandalism. It really runs the gauntlet,” he said.
“I wouldn't want to make that analogy about a good side of town or a bad side of town because all across town there are good people. Even out at Elm Terrace.”
The atmosphere at Elm Terrace was intense Wednesday.
Residents shouted warnings at other residents not to talk about the shooting with anyone.
But Tiffany Lilly, who has lived in the Elm Terrace apartments for three years, said she is sick of seeing young men get arrested and put in jail.
Lilly, 34, said she knew Luna and Edwards were headed for trouble the more they hung out at Elm Terrace.
“Last year they started coming out here,” she said. “I guess they started feeling the need to prove their manhood and felt like they needed to be out here. I tried to encourage them to make good choices and get outside the box, with the box being Duncan.”
While speaking to The Oklahoman, Lilly was interrupted by a neighbor who warned her not to talk about the boys.
“‘Hun, I don't care anything about the homies or none of that. This right here is real life,” she said back.
“We need a solution out here. They need role models.”
Ryan Benton, the youth pastor for First Christian Church in Duncan, said Edwards used to be an active member in the church. The pastor said he had many talks with Edwards about needing to be a leader and not a follower.
Benton said things took a turn for the worse after Edwards was suspended from school and was off the wrestling team.
“I think he was in a really bad place because he was expelled and wrestling was his life,” Benton said. “We would always see him when life wasn't going that great for him, but this time around he didn't come back.”
Benton described Edwards as funny and witty, but that his favorite way of getting a laugh was usually verbally picking on others.
“He had an issue with picking on kids,” he said. “He would choose to capitalize on people's fault. He was a mess but he had a lot of potential to turn it around. We would never have expected this though.”
Crudup has a hard time keeping the tears back as she looks at the comments made about her brother.
She said she feels extremely sad about Lane's death and can't imagine what the three boys were thinking.
“I read where he was down there dancing along after he was arrested and I said, you need to be down there praying,” she said.
“He didn't realize how deep he was but now he does.”