Auburn Police Chief Tommy Dawson confirmed the tragic deaths of three young men who were shot late Saturday night at an apartment complex near Auburn University. Former Auburn football player Ed Christian was dead on the scene when police arrived. Two others died from their wounds shortly after arriving at the hospital, identified by police as Demario A. Pitts and another former Auburn football player, Ladarious Phillips.
Three other individuals were wounded in the shooting. An individual identified as John Robertson is in critical condition and "fighting for his life" at UAB Hospital. Eric Mack, a current Auburn football player, is at East Alabama Medical Center and was treated for non-life-threatening injuries. Xavier Moss was treated and released.
The shooting suspect has been identified as Desmonte Leonard and police are currently in an active manhunt for the "armed and dangerous" man. Dawson indicated there are two other persons of interest, but would not identify them publicly. Three warrants were signed charging Leonard with capital murder and federal U.S. Marshals are assisting the local authorities in the pursuit.
Dawson did say that the police had a motive but would not go into details. He also stressed that there was no specific connection to the Auburn football team that provoked the altercation, saying the three individuals who were murdered were not targeted but simply victims of a "fight that got out of hand." Via Evan Woodberry:
"I don't believe they were targeted .I don't like the word random when it comes to shooting. It was a fight that obviously got out of hand."— Evan Woodbery (@auburnbeat) June 10, 2012
Dawson provided a recent photo of Leonard:
Auburn police chief Tommy Dawson holds a photo of suspect Desmonte Leonard. twitter.com/auburnbeat/sta…— Evan Woodbery (@auburnbeat) June 10, 2012
The University also issued a brief statement addressing the tragedy:
"We're deeply saddened about last night's tragic events that impacted the Auburn community and the Auburn family. Our heart-felt condolences go out to the victims and their families. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers. We're in constant contact with area authorities and will continue to assist in any way possible. Our attention is now focused on providing care and support to those touched by this tragedy."
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