WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — President Barack Obama calls the murder of an Australian baseball player in Oklahoma “tragic.”
In a White House statement given to the Sunday Herald Sun, Obama sent his condolences to the family of Christopher Lane, who was gunned down while jogging on Aug. 16 in Duncan, Okla.
“As the President has expressed on too many tragic occasions, there is an extra measure of evil in an act of violence that cuts a young life short,” White House spokesman Matt Lehrich said in a statement to the Herald Sun. “The President and First Lady’s thoughts and prayers are with Chris Lane’s family and friends in these trying times.”
Lane, a 22-year-old student at East Central University, was shot in the back and killed as he was jogging in an affluent neighborhood in Duncan, in south-central Oklahoma. Three teenagers have been charged with murder.
Oklahoma prosecutors say the three teens chose Lane as their victim at random. Chancey Allen Luna, 16, and James Francis Edwards, Jr., 15, of Duncan, have been charged as adults with first-degree murder. Michael Dewayne Jones, 17, of Duncan, was charged with using a vehicle in the discharge of a weapon and with accessory to first-degree murder. He is considered a youthful offender but will be tried in adult court.
The parents and girlfriend of Lane shared a minute’s silence at home plate of his former ballpark in suburban Melbourne on Sunday as the city’s tight-knit baseball community gathered to offer their support and show their respect at a memorial game in his honor.
An estimated 2,000 former teammates, opponents and their families met at the Essendon Bombers home ground to comfort each other and try and make sense of how the enthusiastic boy they watched grow into a man was murdered last week.
By Sunday, a fund set up to help his parents had already amassed more than $150,000.
“We really appreciate the support from both here and in the States,” said Lane’s father, Peter. “We’ve had sensational support for our kids from family, extended family, from various communities we’ve been involved with and we’re thankful for that.”
Players from Essendon and Melbourne University, wearing black armbands, observed a minute’s silence and stood for the U.S. and Australian national anthems before releasing balloons bearing Chris Lane’s playing number 40.
Peter Lane said while no serious discussions had been held as to how to spend the money donated to Chris’s fund, he’d like to see it used to help other young Australians pursue their sporting futures at U.S. universities.
“I would love something set up that helped kids follow the same path,” he said. “As tragic as Chris’s end was, he was on a very good life path. He made very good choices and decisions about his future. So that’s really pie in the sky stuff, but I’d like to see other kids with the same opportunities Chris had. Maybe if we could make that easier, that’s something we could do.”
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