Two Former Auburn Football Players Killed, One Current Player Shot at Party

By Michael Collins

Last Updated Sun 6/10/12 2:50 pm ET

There are reports coming out of Auburn, Alabama that two former football players, Ladarious Phillips and Ed Christian, have been fatally shot and one current player, Eric Mack, is in the hospital. These names have now been confirmed by Auburn police and are being reported through Twitter and other news sources.  SEE UPDATE BELOW

One early tweet came from the Auburn Plainsman, the university newspaper, but was later deleted: “@TheAUPlainsman Unofficial: Ed Christian pronounced dead at university village. Ladarious Phillips dead in hospital, Eric Mack still alive in hospital”.

WTVM in Columbus, Ga. is reporting that three people are dead and at least two were injured:

News Leader 9 has confirmed three people have died in a shooting in Auburn.  The shooting took place at the University Heights apartment complex late Saturday night.

Two additional victims have been seriously injured and have been taken to an area hospital.  We understand police are seeking a shooter.

News Leader 9 spoke with Auburn Police Chief Tommy Dawson who says he is asking for prayers from the Auburn family.

The Lee County Coroner’s Office has confirmed three are dead and two have been injured in a shooting at the apartment complex off Longleaf Drive.

Chief Dawson tells News Leader 9 the Auburn Police Department will be holding a press conference after 11 central time this morning.

Auburn Police Chief Tommy Dawson told the Opelika-Auburn News early Sunday that authorities responded overnight to a report of multiple gunshot victims at an apartment complex, but he added he was not immediately releasing any further information, and that he had no immediate comment on the situation, the circumstances involved or whether anyone was in custody.  The Auburn police have since confirmed that there were three victims.

John Atkinson, a spokesman for East Alabama Medical Center, told the newspaper in the report online early Sunday that any information would be released later in coordination with the local coroner’s office and the Auburn police department

The newspaper reported that several emergency vehicles had converged on the University Heights apartment complex, a popular apartment complex among Auburn students.

An Auburn police dispatcher contacted by The Associated Press said she had no indication on any subsequent release of information planned by authorities.

Police were photographed conversing together behind the taped-off scene as many of those who initially gathered outside, who appeared to be residents, were waiting for permission to enter their apartments while several police cars and other vehicles were parked around the entrance.  Residents with identification are now being allowed back into the complex with police escort.

Look for updates to this story as more details are released.

UPDATE:  (10:14 am ET) – Multiple witnesses are telling authorities that the altercation began over a woman and led to shootings.  Turquorius Vines, 23, (a resident, but not an Auburn student) said, “[The party] went from us chilling with all these females to a massacre for no reason at all,”

UPDATE: (10:46 am ET) – CNN was reporting that the Twitter account for the Plainsman had been suspended.  The paper has responded by saying a previous account had been deleted, but that their account was not suspended.

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UPDATE: (1:10 pm ET) – has confirmed that Ed Christian and Ladarious Phillips were killed by a gunman, and current offensive lineman Eric Mack was wounded. His wound is not considered to be life-threatening and he may be released  from the East Alabama Medical Center in Opelika within days.

UPDATE: (2:50 pm ET) – Auburn Police Chief Tommy Dawson confirmed the deaths of the three young men who were shot late Saturday night.  Along with former Auburn football players Ed Christian and Ladarious Phillips, a third victim, identified by police as Demario A. Pitts was also killed.  Pitts was not affiliated with the Auburn football team.

In addition to the three deaths, three others were wounded in the shooting. John Robertson is in critical condition and “fighting for his life” at UAB Hospital. Eric Mack, a current Auburn football player, is at East Alabama Medical Center and was treated for non-life-threatening injuries. Xavier Moss was treated and released.

The shooting suspect has been identified as Desmonte Leonard and police are currently in an active manhunt for him.  He has been described by police as “armed and dangerous”. Three warrants were issued today, charging Leonard with capital murder.

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