Former Lowndes Football Player Killed in Shooting Near Auburn University

By: CNN Email
By: CNN Email

Auburn, Alabama --- June 10, 2012

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 about 10:03 p.m. Saturday, Dawson said. Arriving officers found Edward Christian, 20, dead at the scene. Christian 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, remained hospitalized Sunday at East Alabama Medical Center in the nearby town of Opelika.

Mack's injuries were not life-threatening, Dawson said, but 20-year-old John Robertson was in critical condition and undergoing surgery at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital. Robertson was shot in the head, Dawson said.

A third man, 19-year-old Xavier Moss, was treated and released from East Alabama Medical Center.

Police have a motive in the shooting, but Dawson would not release it, saying "that's for the courtroom, later on."

Two other people were being sought for questioning Sunday, he said, but did not release their identities, saying only that "it would probably be in their best interest to come forward."

Authorities believe gunfire erupted during a fight at a party, he said. Leonard was 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.

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.

"Hopefully, we'll make an arrest some time today," Dawson said.

"This is a tragic day for the entire Auburn community," Auburn Athletic Director Jay Jacobs said in a statement. "First and foremost, our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families who have been devastated by this senseless tragedy.

"We will support the families of the victims in the difficult days ahead in every way that we possibly can," he said. "Our student-athletes are obviously stunned and deeply saddened, and we are providing counseling and support for them as they grieve the loss of their teammates and friends."

Gene Chizik, Auburn head football coach, called it "a sad, sad day for everyone associated with the entire Auburn family." Chizik said he is "devastated" at the three deaths, including those of Christian and Phillips, who he knew personally.

"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," he said. "We are relieved that Eric Mack, who was also a victim in this incident, is expected to make a full recovery. This is a very trying time for everyone involved, and I would just ask that you lift up the victims and their families in your prayers."

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  • by Frances on Jun 11, 2012 at 10:32 AM
    There seems to be a correlation between football players, violence and ........ help me out here someone.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Jun 11, 2012 at 12:58 PM in reply to Frances
      Please learn your facts, the football players were and three other non athletic students where innocent bystanders at the party. This has nothing to do with football.
  • by Michelle on Jun 11, 2012 at 09:11 AM
    Hey Rick, it must feel weird to write an essay to disprove a lie.....blacks are committing most of the violent crime in America...and no I am not a coward or a liar like yourself.....anonymous right....I can make up a name myself, then again, people like you think the rest of us are dumb and cowards just shows that you, whoever you are, are a fool and idiot and ignorant. You are a joke really, or better, your whole statement is a joke
  • by Anonymous on Jun 11, 2012 at 09:05 AM
    Rick...most of the crime at FSU is caused guessed it black thugs. Try again.
  • by Rick Location: Tallahassee on Jun 11, 2012 at 08:20 AM
    Let's put this whole thing into perspective. These were senseless killings that happened at Auburn University, a white college. For anonymous cowards to relate these killings to FAMU tells me a lot about their lack of intelligence. Let me provide you with some facts: FSU is a much more dangerous campus than FAMU, period! Back in the mid 1970's, serial killer Ted Bundy murdered two FSU students in a greek house on campus. In 1986, FSU football player Pablo Lopez was shot & killed on campus. In 1999,FSU’S band drum major was barred from the band for HAZING! SAY WHAT!! In 2001, FSU freshman football player Devaughn Darling fell dead on the practice field from what some people are calling FSU coaching negligence. In 2011, FSU student Ashley Cowie was shot & killed in a campus greek house by an FSU male student. Between the early 70's & now, there have been countless violent crimes committed on FSU's campus by their student athletes & other students. If I'm not mistaken, there have been a total of 10 armed robberies on FSU's campus versus 2 on FAMU's campus in 2012. So, according to detailed statistics, FSU is a much more dangerous campus than FAMU. And, according to U.S. News & World Reports, FAMU is "The No. 1 Most Popular University In The State of Florida". Now, since I've set the record straight, we can move on and have an intelligent conversation about the topic at hand. On second thought, anonymous cowards have very low intelligence so never mind.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Jun 11, 2012 at 09:04 AM in reply to Rick
      Rick your ignorance shows well.
    • reply
      by Jake on Jun 11, 2012 at 09:11 AM in reply to Rick
      You did not set anything straight, you just spouted rhetoric to appease your own low intelligence.
    • reply
      by rob on Jun 11, 2012 at 10:34 AM in reply to Rick
      Please show us your links to these lies....if you are willing.
      • reply
        by Rick on Jun 11, 2012 at 01:44 PM in reply to rob
        rob, do your own research or are you afraid of the truth?
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Jun 11, 2012 at 11:07 AM in reply to Rick
      Watch the evening news. Every other day a shooting occurs on or near FAMU. If you are to spout statistics then compare on level grounds. Compare the size of schools, compare the percentage black/white in America and at these skills. A disproportionate amount of crime is the fault of blacks. This is fact. No way to look at it differently.
    • reply
      by Pea Rick on Jun 11, 2012 at 11:31 AM in reply to Rick
      Gosh, I wonder why armed robbers prefer FSU campus as opposed to FAMU. Think, think, think -- nope, i am just not intelligent enough to figure it out -- can sumboddee pleez hewp me fine teh answer?????
    • reply
      by you win again on Jun 11, 2012 at 11:46 AM in reply to Rick
      you are well spoken but its not always the content as much as the context of your statements. very good for you in that you are literate, however most of the robberies on fsu campus were from basin and macomb st residents, ted bundy was not a student, and ppl were involved that had no bus. on campus. however the students that were beaten to death or put in the hospital on famu campus were classmates and band members. having said that, the world is a dangerous place but on a bus with your friends should be the last place you die from a beating. you must be one of the ones defending the boys that raped the 11yo?
  • by wtf? on Jun 11, 2012 at 07:53 AM
    was he wearing a hoodie and carrying skittles?
  • by randy Location: tallahassee on Jun 11, 2012 at 07:04 AM
    Everytime I go to a pool party I am sure to pack my gun with my sunscreen. Get real, these are the same kind of fools who go to famu.
  • by Curious on Jun 11, 2012 at 06:21 AM
    How do you disrespect someone who has no self-respect?
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Jun 11, 2012 at 11:34 AM in reply to Curious
      A lot more easily than someone who has some...
  • by man oh man on Jun 11, 2012 at 04:26 AM
    They as crazy in Alabama as they are here in Tallahassee. You diss me and I'm gonna pop a cap in you. Utterly ridiculous.
  • by hershey Location: tallahassee on Jun 10, 2012 at 09:05 PM
    Its really sad this happened, all of them were so young. My prayers go to the families
  • by John T. Herring, Location: Opp, Alabama on Jun 10, 2012 at 08:28 PM
    There no words I say about the murders of the three young men it is sad that such crime can happen. My prayers go to the families who lost their sons to the families of the young men who were wounded. The prayers of all Alabama is with you during this time of lost. I am praying that they catch the who did this violent act. It is my prayer that Justice we be Done.
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