Police Say "Bored" Teens Killed Exchange Student "For Fun"

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Aug. 20 2013 12:33 PM

"To Try to Understand It Is a Short Way to Insanity"

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Christopher Lane, an Australian baseball player and college student, died after he was shot in the back while he was jogging in the small town of Duncan, Oklahoma.

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

The terrible story of an Australian baseball player who police say was shot and killed for "fun" on Friday by three "bored" teenagers in an otherwise quiet Oklahoma neighborhood is making headlines today. It's a sad story (obviously), and one that is almost beyond comprehension.

Jennifer Lai Jennifer Lai

Jennifer Lai is an associate editor at Slate. Slate Plus members, email her here.

According to officials, 22-year-old Christopher Lane was gunned down randomly after he went for an afternoon jog in the small town of Duncan, Oklahoma, where he was visiting his girlfriend and her family. During his jog, a group of three teenage boys — aged 15, 16, and 17 — allegedly spotted Lane and decided to follow him in a car before fatally shooting him with a .22-caliber revolver in the back. Lane, a student from Melbourne attending East Central University on a baseball scholarship, died at the scene.

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But what makes this story even more difficult to comprehend than your average murder was the boys' alleged motivation, or lack there of. Here's how the local police chief, Danny Ford, explained the suspects' motivation in an interview with th Associated Press on Monday:

"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.'"

Ford told a similar story to local television station KOCO in Oklahoma City, saying that one of the teens told police he and his friends shot Lane for "the fun of it."

It's worth remembering that the quotes themselves are coming secondhand (that is, Ford doesn't appear to be quoting the alleged gunmen verbatim). Still, if the police's version of events prove true, the exact wording doesn't really matter. As Peter Lane, Christopher's father, told Australian broadcasters: "It is heartless and to try to understand it is a short way to insanity."

All three teens are currently in custody. The district attorney is expected to charge all three with first-degree murder, although it's unclear if they will be charged as adults or juveniles.

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