Two of the teenage suspects in the shooting of an Australian jogger in the sleepy town of Duncan, Oklahoma are being held without bail, while the third suspect’s bail was set at $1 million.
James Edwards, 15, and Chancey Luna, 16, have been charged with first degree murder and Michael Jones, 17, has been charged with using a vehicle to facilitate the discharge of a weapon and accessory after the fact.
Jones, who will be charged as an adult, could face a prison sentence from two years to life if convicted, while the other two suspects, who will also be charged as adults, could face life in prison without parole if convicted of murder in the first degree.
The victim, Christopher Lane, 23, of Melbourne, Australia, was found dead of a gunshot wound in the back on August 16. He had been jogging when the shooting occurred. Lane was attending East Central University in Ada, Oklahoma, where he was on a baseball scholarship.
Prosecutor Jason Hicks on Tuesday called the suspects "thugs" during a hearing earlier this week.
"I'm appalled," Hicks said after the hearing. "This is not supposed to happen in this community."
Duncan is a town of just over 23,000 population in south-central Oklahoma.
In the courtroom, Hicks said Luna was sitting in the backseat of a car when he pulled the trigger of a .22 caliber revolver and shot Lane once in the back. Hicks said Jones was driving the vehicle and Edwards was in the passenger seat.
According to the Duncan Banner newspaper
, Hicks said that upon arrest, one of the suspects was “kind of laughing and carrying on” as if it was a joke.
Hicks said the shooting appears to have been completely random, adding that one of the suspects said they did because they were bored.
“There is no connection that I’ve seen inside the investigation between these three and the victim in this particular case — no connection whatsoever,” Hicks said.
The tragic shooting, which was done “for the fun of it” has shaken Duncan and caused waves in Australia, with a former deputy prime minister calling for an Australian boycott of U.S. tourism.
“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,” Tim Fischer told the Australian newspaper The Day
. “There is a gun for almost every American.”
Homicides in the United States occur at the rate is five per 100,000 people, according to 2012 statistics released by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime
. The majority of U.S. homicides involve firearms.
On Tuesday, a gunman opened fire with an AK-47 submachine gun at a Georgia elementary school. No one was injured and the shooter was arrested.
The most recent high-profile mass shooting occurred in December of 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut, when Adam Lanza killed 20 children at nearby Sandy Hook Elementary school. Lanza also killed six adults, his mother and himself.
In the aftermath, there were repeated calls for more gun control in the U.S., but efforts to pass legislation failed to make it through Congress.