Duncan, Oklahoma: Chris Lane was murdered as a part of a gang initiation, according to James Johnson, the father of a boy who was also allegedly targeted by the three youths accused of killing Mr Lane.
Police have not commented on the claim, though court documents confirm the accused were eventually arrested in front of the boy's home.
Sheila Haynes, whose son was allegedly targeted by the accused youths, at her home. The suspects were arrested nearby. Photo: Nick O'Malley
In their car, police say they found a shotgun and the .22-calibre revolver they believe was used to kill Mr Lane, and a cache of ammunition.
Mr Johnson told Fairfax Media that the three youths had been trying to recruit his 17-year-old son, Chris, into a gang, and that Chris had refused.
On Friday afternoon, two hours after Mr Lane's murder, Mr Johnson was working on his truck in the Immanuel Church car park opposite the home where Chris lives with his mother, Sheila Haynes.
James Johnson, who says his son was targeted by the youths accused of shooting Chris Lane. Photo: Nick O'Malley
From inside the home, Chris rang Mr Johnson and said he had received a death threat from the accused boys, who he knew from school, via Facebook. As he put his mobile phone away, Mr Johnson saw the three youths, whom he has known all their lives, in a black car in the middle of the car park.
Mr Johnson was unaware of the earlier shooting, or that police were already scouring the town for the car after it had been described at the scene of the earlier shooting.
According to Mr Johnson, one of the boys, James Edwards, got out of the car and appeared to either stretch or reach down for something. Pretending to still be on the phone to Chris, Mr Johnson called police, who were on the scene within minutes.
Court documents filed by police confirm that Mr Johnson called police to tell them three armed youths were in front of the home at 7.05pm, some four hours after Mr Lane was shot dead, and that officers were dispatched to the car park where they arrested the three accused.
But the documents also show that police found ammunition for a .22-calibre revolver like the one they allege was used to kill Mr Lane was by then hidden in the car's air intake, while a second weapon, a shotgun, was disassembled.
"I don't think it was an initiation – I know it was an initiation, my son told me it was an initiation," Mr Johnson told Fairfax Media.
Since the murder and the arrests, Mr Johnson has sent Chris away for safety to a youth program.
If Mr Johnson is correct, the revelation could go some way to providing a motive for the killing. Duncan residents — and people around the world — have struggled to accept that the youths would have committed the murder out of boredom, as one of the accused has told police.
"I just thank God I was there, and that Chris was not outside, they could have just driven past and shot him, I don't even like to contemplate that," Mr Johnson said.
"To be quite honest, if they were smarter, they could have come up behind me and shot me in the head."
He described the three youths - James Edwards, Michael Jones and the accused shooter, Chancey Luna - as good boys who had gone off the rails.
"They don't have proper fathers in their lives. You can't be a friend to your son, you got to be the father," he said.
"I feel very sorry for them, they have ruined their whole lives, but they did the crime, they have to do the time. Perhaps they can make a life inside, get God in their lives," he said.
"That Edwards was some talent, wrestling, football, he was an athlete. Satan has taken a lot of lives here."
He said a gang operating in nearby cities, such as Oklahoma City and Dallas, has been recruiting in Duncan. He said he believed the gang was responsible for the theft of guns in the area.
Sheila Haynes, who has three children with Mr Johnson, was not at home during the incident, which occurred on her birthday. Chris was at home with their youngest daughter, Shanelle, who is 15.
"I am just thankful that I did not have to lose a son on my birthday," she said. "But I am so sad that someone else did."
Asked if Chris had been scared by the incident, she said: "Well, if he is, he is not going to tell me, as his mom.
"He just said to me, 'Mom if it is my time, it is my time'."