Suspect sought in Auburn slayings

Sunday, June 10, 2012 4:14 PM
Last updated Monday, June 11, 2012 4:46 AM
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AUBURN, Ala. — The search continued this morning for a gunman suspected of killing three people and wounding three more in a shooting at a pool party near Auburn University. Two of the slain victims were former players for the school's powerhouse football program.

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Auburn Police Chief Tommy Dawson holds up a photo of Desmonte Leonard, 22, of Montgomery, Ala., the suspect wanted for fatally shooting three people, including two former Auburn University football players, and wounding another three people during a party at an apartment complex near the school, at a news conference Sunday, June 10, 2012, in Auburn, Ala.   DAVID GOLDMAN/ASSOCIATED PRESS
DAVID GOLDMAN/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Auburn Police Chief Tommy Dawson holds up a photo of Desmonte Leonard, 22, of Montgomery, Ala., the suspect wanted for fatally shooting three people, including two former Auburn University football players, and wounding another three people during a party at an apartment complex near the school, at a news conference Sunday, June 10, 2012, in Auburn, Ala.

Authorities were searching for Desmonte Leonard, 22, of Montgomery, who is accused of opening fire Saturday night at an apartment complex after getting into a fight with some of the victims over a woman. He faces three counts of capital murder.

Auburn Police Chief Tommy Dawson said Leonard fled the scene in a white Chevrolet that he abandoned on the way back to Montgomery, about 55 miles away. They believed he was in the Montgomery area.

Of the three wounded victims, John Robertson remained in critical condition after being shot in the head. Xavier Moss was released from the hospital. The third wounded victim was Eric Mack, a current football player who is expected to recover.

Slain were Edward Christian, who had to quit the team because of a lingering back injury, and Ladarious Phillips, who had previously quit playing football. The other person killed was 20-year-old Demario Pitts.

Police emphasized that the shootings didn't appear to have anything to do with some of the victims being former or current players on the football team, which won the national championship in 2010.

"The only connection that the Auburn football team has to this is they are victims of a brutal shooting. Sometimes the young men get a bad rap, I feel like, but they are the victims today," Dawson said.

Dawson said he did not know why the party was being held or what started the fight.

Turquorius Vines, 23, said he was at the party Saturday evening at the University Heights apartments with one of his friend, Pitts. He said he and his friend were approached by two other men who started arguing with them over a woman.

Vines said he punched one of the men, while Pitts hit both of the men over the head with a bottle. Either one or both of the two men then started shooting, he said. He said Pitts was shot and killed, while two others also were hit by gunfire. Vines said he had never met the men he was arguing with.

"It's like I lost a lung," Vines said of losing his friend. "I don't know how I'm going to survive this."

Several emergency vehicles converged overnight around the University Heights apartment complex where many students live. The building was swathed in yellow police tape.

It appeared that the shooting happened in an archway near the apartment complex information center, near the edge of the parking lot.

Mack, the wounded player, is a junior offensive lineman from St. Matthews, S.C. He played in five games last season. Coach Gene Chizik said Mack was expected to recover.

Christian was an offensive lineman who left last season while dealing with a back injury. Phillips was a backup fullback. Chizik said in April that Phillips had decided to give up football.

A person who answered the phone at the home of Phillips' mother declined comment and said his family was too distraught to comment.

"Nobody should ever have to endure such unimaginable grief, and we will love and support the victims' families during this terribly difficult time," Chizik said. "We have a lot of people on our football team that are hurting right now and we're going to do everything we can to help them get through this."

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Just My Opinion
4653
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Just My Opinion 06/10/12 - 05:40 pm
3
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That's so very awful! I am

That's so very awful! I am so sorry for all the people involved and hope they catch whoever is responsible.

smokeysbandit
257
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smokeysbandit 06/10/12 - 06:41 pm
3
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I may be a diehard Tide fan

I may be a diehard Tide fan but my heart has to go out to Auburn University. This is such a tragedy no matter what school they may be connected to. My thoughts and prayers go out to these families. For what might be the first time in my life, let me just say...."WAR EAGLE"!

sunshinebear4
10
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sunshinebear4 06/10/12 - 11:57 pm
2
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So sad

As an Auburn grad this makes my heart very sad. Prayers to the Auburn family!

lifelongresident
1311
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lifelongresident 06/11/12 - 07:54 am
0
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culture, culture, culture of

Unpublished

culture, culture, culture of violence. I see the authorities have what looks like an booking picture of "ole dez"...seems the only graduating "ole dez' did was thru the univ of prison (or to put it in more politically correct terms..."incarceration" university). so "ole dez" isn't a stranger to the justice system and my guess prior charges include ones that include a weapon. of course the justice system let him out when they should have executed him a long time ago. He will get caught get a lawyer who will claim "self defense" also his lawyer will claim his client is mentally ill and due to lacking a father figure in his life, along with his ancestors were slaves will attempt to make a case why his client should not be executed, because to do so is racist....by the way all where are the marches, the hoodies, and most importantly where are the "justice bruthas" al and jessie??...oh yeah that's right this is black-on-black crime (by the way the leading cause of death for black males under the age of 30yrs old) so these shootings never occurred in the world of al, jessie, and all the fools who marched for "trayvonn because if they did then al and jessie should be right there leading a march calling attention to the out of control black-on-black crime destroying the black communities and there would be bus loads leaving college campuses with the riders dressed in football jerseys going to march in the the name of the 3 young men shot and killed by "ole dez"

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