AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — Three people were fatally shot, including two former Auburn University football players, and another three people were wounded during a party at an apartment complex near the school, authorities said Sunday.
Auburn Police Chief Tommy Dawson said during a news conference that current football player Eric Mack was among those wounded and was being treated at a hospital.
The two slain former players were identified as Edward Christian and Ladarious Phillips. The other person killed was identified as Demario Pitts.
Officials also said Xavier Moss and John Robertson were wounded.
“This is a trying time, not only university students and athletes, but it’s young people. it’s six young people that have been shot. As you can tell, the community is shaken by this and grieving today,” Dawson said.
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Police say Desmonte Leonard has been charged with capital murder and has not yet been captured. Dawson stressed that the football team was connected to the shooting only because current and former players were victims.
“Them being football players really has nothing to do with this. They’re victims of a shooting,” Dawson said.
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Turquorius Vines, 23, said he was at the pool party Saturday evening at the University Heights apartments with one of his friend, Pitts. He said he and his friend were approached by two other men who started arguing with them over a woman.
Vines said he punched one of the men, while Pitts hit both of the men over the head with a bottle. Either one or both of the two men then started shooting, he said. He said his friend was shot and killed, while two others also were hit by gunfire. Vines said he had never before seen the men who he had been arguing with.
“It’s like I lost a lung,” Vines said of his friend. “I don’t know how I’m going to survive this.”
Several emergency vehicles had converged overnight around the University Heights apartment complex where reports indicated a number of students who attend Auburn University typically reside. The building was swathed in yellow police tape.
It appeared that the shooting happened in an archway near the apartment complex information center, near the edge of the parking lot. Five uniformed officers guarded the area, which was sealed off with crime scene tape, and a handful of crime scene investigators were at work.
Mack, the wounded player, is a junior offensive lineman from St. Matthews, S.C. He played in five games last season. Christian is an offensive lineman who was out last season while dealing with a back injury. Phillips was a backup fullback. Coach Gene Chizik said in April that Phillips had decided to give up football.