An Oklahoma man who called the police to report the teens accused of shooting 22-year-old Australian exchange student Christopher Lane says the killing was part of a gang initiation, and he claims that his own son was on a list of targets sought by the killers.
In an interview published by the Sydney Morning Herald, James Johnson said the teens charged with Lane's murder had attempted to recruit his 17-year-old son, Christopher, for the gang. When his son refused, his name was placed on the hit list, he said.
"The way I understand it, there's a list that pops up with my son's name at the top of the list and four others they were going to bump off," Johnson said.
"I don't think it was an initiation. I know it was an initiation," he continued. "My son told me it was an initiation."
Johnson said he did not know the other names on the purported list, including whether Lane's name was on it.
Lane, a baseball player from Melbourne, was shot once in the back as he was jogging in Duncan, Okla., on Friday. He died before paramedics arrived.
On Monday, prosecutors charged two of the boys, Chancey Allen Luna, 16, and James Francis Edwards Jr., 15, with first-degree murder. A third boy, Michael Dewayne Jones, 17, was charged as an accessory to first-degree murder after the fact.
The two younger teens, who under Oklahoma law will be tried as adults, face life in prison without parole if convicted on the murder charge.
Johnson called police to report the teens were in front of his home several hours after Lane's death. Johnson said he was unaware of the earlier shooting.
"I just thank God I was there and that [my son] was not outside," he said. "They could have just driven past and shot him. I don't even like to contemplate that."
Police would not comment on Johnson's hit-list claim, which would seem to contradict initial reports that the teens were bored and shot Lane for fun.
News of Lane's death has sparked outrage in Australia. Tim Fischer, Australia's former deputy prime minister, is urging citizens to boycott travel to the United States in the wake of the slaying.
"You are 15 times more likely to be shot dead in the USA than you are here in Australia," Fischer said in an interview with CNN on Wednesday. "There is murder mayhem on Main Street USA every day of the week."
Fischer slammed U.S. lawmakers for turning a blind eye to "sensible" gun control and lashed out at the National Rifle Association for using the Second Amendment as a shield against it.
"You let your congressmen and senators escape and dance around the bush when it's a very real circumstance supported by the NRA," Fischer said. "I've been to the Philadelphia Constitutional Museum. I've looked at your Second Amendment. I don't believe your Second Amendment provides for semi-automatics or automatics in the suburbs. This is why Australians and anybody else should think carefully about traveling to the USA, until you start to make a move on gun and firearm sensible control."
He added: "I enjoyed taking my family on the Coastal Starlight on Amtrak from Los Angeles to Seattle a few years ago. I'll think twice about it again because of your massacre level."