By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Two former Auburn football players were among three people killed during an altercation at a party in Auburn Saturday night. Three other people at the party were wounded.
Former Auburn football players Ladarious Phillips (age 20) and Ed Christian (age 20) as well as Auburn resident Demario Pitts (age 20) were all killed. As of press time the police were still searching for suspect Desmonte Leonard. The FBI has put out a $10,000 reward for information leading to the capture of the Montgomery man. Auburn Police Chief Tommy Dawson said that Leonard should be considered armed and extremely dangerous. Desmonte Leonard is a 22 year old Black male.
Current Auburn football player Eric Mack was one of those who were wounded in the gunfire. John Robertson (age 20) is in critical condition at University Hospital in Birmingham. A sixth victim, Xavier Moss (age 19), was treated and released for only minor injuries. Chief Dawson said, “It’s sickening that these young lives were cut short.” According to early press reports a fight occurred at a pool party in an off campus apartment complex in Auburn. Leonard pulled a handgun and then allegedly shot the six people. Leonard left the scene in a white Chevrolet Caprice which has since been found abandoned on a road in Macon County. The U.S. Marshalls, Auburn Police, FBI, Macon County Sheriff’s Department, Opelika Police Department, Lee County DA’s office, and Montgomery Police Department are all working on the case. CBS 42 in Birmingham is reporting that there are two other “persons of interest” that the police are looking for in the case.
Auburn President Jay Gogue released a statement Sunday. President Gogue said, “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.”
Auburn Football Coach Gene Chizik said, “”This is a sad, sad day for everyone associated with the entire Auburn family. I am devastated by the passing of three young men, including two that I personally knew in Ed Christian and Ladarious Phillips and my heart goes out to their families. My thoughts and prayers are with their families and all of the victims involved in this tragic incident. Nobody should ever have to endure such unimaginable grief, and we will love and support the victims’ families during this terribly difficult time. 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. 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.”
Auburn Athletics Director Jay Jacobs also released a statement: “”This is a tragic day for the entire Auburn community. 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. 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.”
On Facebook, Alabama Senator Jabo Waggoner said, “My thoughts and prayers go out to the Auburn University family today. As someone who has sent three generations of my family to Auburn I am saddened by what happened yesterday afternoon. Let’s all join together and support our brothers and sisters as they struggle through this time.”
Alabama Governor Robert Bentley on Facebook said, “We are saddened by what has taken place, and we offer prayers and condolences for the Auburn Community, the entire AU family, and to all those impacted by last night’s tragedy.”
The Auburn slayings have drawn national media attention, including FOX News, CNN, ESPN, and MSNBC.