Shooting Near Alabama University Leaves 3 Dead

Posted By Urban News Hour | June 12, 2012

AUBURN, Ala. -Three people, including two former Auburn University football players, were killed late Saturday and three others were wounded in a shooting in an off-campus apartment complex in Auburn, Alabama, police said Sunday.

A manhunt was under way in Montgomery, about 55 miles west of Auburn, for a suspect in the case, said Auburn Police Chief Tommy Dawson. He identified the suspect as Desmonte Leonard, 22, of Montgomery.

Officers received a call reporting the shooting at the University Heights apartments clubhouse about 10:03 p.m. Saturday, Dawson said. Arriving officers found Edward Christian, 20, dead at the scene. Christian, of Valdosta, Georgia, was off the football team due to an injury, Dawson said.

Former player Ladarious Phillips, 20, and Auburn resident Demario Pitts, 20, died later at a hospital, he said. Two others, including current Auburn sophomore offensive lineman Eric Mack, 20, of Cameron, South Carolina, were taken to East Alabama Medical Center in the nearby town of Opelika.

Mack was released from the medical center about 11 a.m. Sunday after being treated for a gunshot wound, hospital spokesman John Atkinson said.

Chief Dawson said 20-year-old John Robertson was in critical condition and undergoing surgery Sunday at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital. Robertson was shot in the head, Dawson said.

Another man, 19-year-old Xavier Moss, was treated and released from East Alabama Medical Center. Both Moss and Robertson are from Roanoke, Alabama.

Authorities believe gunfire erupted during a fight at a party, he said. Leonard and two other men were thought to have fled the scene in a white Chevrolet Caprice. Police later found the car abandoned in an adjacent county, Dawson said, and it was being processed.

CNN affiliate WGCL/CBS Atlanta reported that one witness, Turquorius Vines, said the violence was sudden.

“It went from us chilling with all these females, to a massacre,” Vines told the station. “It happened in a matter of seconds.”

The men believed to have fled with Leonard were being sought for questioning Sunday, Dawson said, but did not release their identities, saying only that “it would probably be in their best interest to come forward.”

Arrest warrants have been issued for Leonard on three counts of capital murder, Dawson said. He is considered armed and dangerous, and U.S. Marshals were assisting in the search for him, along with Montgomery police.

“It’s sickening that these young lives were cut short,” Dawson said, “and also the shooter is such a young man. As a society, we’ve got to learn the value of life again.”

He urged anyone knowing Leonard’s whereabouts to contact authorities, and urged Leonard to turn himself in to police.






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