The suspect in the Auburn University shooting is being urged to give himself up by authorities. Almost 36 hours after the shooting took place, federal marshals and police are still searching for Desmonte Leonard, who is facing three counts of capital murder.
Leonard is wanted by investigators after allegedly killing three people – including two former Auburn University football players – and wounding another three at a Saturday night pool party. The dispute that led to the shootings was over a woman, according to authorities and witnesses.
Auburn Police Chief Tommy Dawson said that the shootings didn’t seem to have anything to do with Leonard and some of the victims being former or current players on the university’s football team, which won the national championship in 2010. He told CBS News:
“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. Them being football players really has nothing to do with this. They’re victims of a shooting.”
Dawson urged Leonard to turn himself in, and revealed that authorities are also searching for two other ‘persons of interest’ who were not named.
Leonard’s victims included Edward Christian, Ladarious Phillips – who had previously quit playing football – and 20-year-old Demario Pitts. The wounded included Eric Mack, Xavier Moss and John Robertson. Robertson was shot in the head and critically hurt, while Moss has since been discharged from hospital.
23-year-old Turquorius Vines, a friend of Pitts, described how he was at the pool party on Saturday when he and Pitts were approached by two other men, who immediately started arguing with them over a woman. Vines says he punched one of the men, and Pitts hit both with a bottle. Then one or both of the two men, who Vines did not recognize, started shooting. Vines later discussed Pitts to reporters, stating:
“It’s like I lost a lung. I don’t know how I’m going to survive this.”
The 22-year-old Leonard, who hails from Montgomery, has been arrested twice before on gun charges, according to online court records. Records also show he has been sued twice for child support; the most recent of these lawsuits was filed on Friday, the day before Saturday night’s shooting.