Auburn shootings: Ex-football players among dead; shooter remains at-large

Dylan Stableford
The Lookout

Two former Auburn University football players were among three people killed in a shooting at an off-campus party late Saturday--and a manhunt is on for the suspected shooter.

The players, Edward Christian and Ladarious Phillips, both 20, were confirmed dead by police on Sunday; 20-year-old Demario Pitts was also killed.

Three others--including Eric Mack, a current Auburn offensive lineman--were wounded after gunfire erupted during a fight at an apartment complex near campus, police said. All three were hospitalized.

John Robertson, a 20-year-old who was shot in the head, was in critical condition and undergoing surgery at the Univ. of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital, Auburn Police Chief Tommy Dawson said at a news conference. Xavier Moss, 19, was treated and released from East Alabama Medical Center. Mack remains hospitalized, but his injuries are not thought to be life threatening.

Dawson said police are searching for Desmonte Leonard, 22, of Montgomery, Ala., who has been charged with three counts of capital murder.

Two other people are wanted for questioning, thought their names were not released.

Police were called to the apartment complex shortly after 10 p.m. Saturday. Dawson said police have a motive, but would not elaborate. "That's for the courtroom," he said.

"We're deeply saddened about last night's tragic events that impacted the Auburn community and the Auburn family," Auburn Univ. president Jay Gogue said in a statement. " 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."

"This is a sad, sad day for everyone associated with the entire Auburn family," Auburn coach Gene Chizik added in a separate statement. "I am devastated by the passing of three young men, including two that I personally knew in Ed Christian and LaDarius Phillips and my heart goes out to their families. 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."

Dawson said there does not appear to be any connection between the football team and shooting.

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