Art Lawler Staff Writer firstname.lastname@example.org
An East Central University baseball player who was gunned down Friday in Duncan was described as a great teammate and an excellent student-athlete by his coach and a fellow ballplayer.
Christopher Lane, a 22-year-old Australian national, died after being shot in the back Friday afternoon in a drive-by shooting, Danny Ford, Duncan police chief, told The Ada News. Three juveniles, ages 15, 16, and 17, are being held in the Stephens County jail on a complaint of first-degree murder. Two of the juveniles were not talking to police, Ford said, but the 17-year-old has told Ford that the shooter was the 16-year-old.
Ford told The Ada News that Stephens County District Attorney Jason Hicks has said he would probably release the names of the juveniles as soon as they appear in district court, perhaps as early as today.
Lane was shot and killed at 2:57 p.m. Friday. Officers initiated a manhunt and, after receiving a phone tip at 7:05 p.m., found three young men near a black Honda Civic in the parking lot of a church. The youths had allegedly gone to a house across the street from the church and were “wanting to kill somebody,” Ford said. He said the juveniles were uncooperative and detectives were called to the scene.
Ford said the boys claimed they were “bored and had nothing to do.” He said the boys were in a house located on Country Club Road when they saw Lane leave his place of residence to go jogging north on that road.
“These three saw the jogger go by. It was random,” Ford told the Duncan Banner.
A dismantled shotgun was found in the back of the Civic, but not the gun that was used to shoot Lane. That gun has not yet been recovered.
Lane, of Melbourne, had only returned from Australia three days earlier. He was staying with his girlfriend, Sarah Harper, and her family in Duncan. The couple had spent most of the summer in Australia. He had transferred to ECU from Redlands Junior College and was majoring in finance.
“The ECU family is saddened to hear about this tragedy,” said Dr. Jeff Williams, director of athletics. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Lane family and friends. We will do everything possible to support his family and teammates during this sad time.”
Dino Rosato, head baseball coach, said that when he thinks about Lane, “I think about a young man with a kind heart and a magnetic personality. He was a person I wanted to be around. He was a young man with great character. I am a better man for Chris having been a part of my life.”
Jacob Caton, a teammate of Lane’s, said Lane “was a very good person. He was never going out looking for trouble. He always had respect for others, and he had a girl who was pretty awesome.
“He had a great knowledge of the game, was a great defensive catcher, and as a hitter, he was looking to get better,” Caton said.
“He was a lively, genuine guy,” Caton said, “always willing to offer a helping hand. He put everyone else ahead of himself, and when we’d go out of town, he’d make sure everyone was alright. The great thing about him was that he would teach us all his Australian drinking songs. They were always funny and we had a good time being around him.”
“Chris was an extremely well-respected teammate,” Rosato said. “He had an above-average baseball IQ. He was a tremendous defensive catcher and great communicator from behind the dish. He had great command of the defensive sets and the pitching staff. He understood how the get the best out of his teammates.
“He was a tireless worker on and off the field,” Rosato said. “He was an absolute joy to coach. I will miss watching him work behind the plate. You would never know if he was having a bad day because he always had the ‘Chris Lane smile’ on.
“He had a great locker room presence,” Rosato said. “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.
“Chris also excelled in the classroom,” Rosato said. “The main focus in our program is academic achievement. Chris was a special student-athlete who achieved high marks as a business/finance major. That is what I am most admired about Chris when I think of him as a student-athlete. He understood that academic success directly correlates to success on the ballfield.
“He was a shining example of the core elements of the ECU baseball program. I pray that his soul receives the light he deserves,” Rosato said.
The Duncan Banner contributed to this story.