Montgomery Manhunt for Auburn Shooter, Police Still Searching

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By Heather VacLav

The FBI and U.S. Marshals are offering a $15,000 reward in the search for Auburn shooting suspect, 22-year old Desmonte Leonard. The shooting happened Saturday night around 10 p.m. during an off-campus party in Auburn.

 

A manhunt is underway for the suspect accused as being responsible for killing three people, including two former Auburn football players, and injuring three others.

 

The environment outside of University Heights Apartment complex was a stark difference from the chaos Saturday evening following the shooting. Auburn Police said a fight started at a pool party, and soon there after Leonard allegedly shot six people.

 

University Heights Apartment was on lock down Saturday night, surrounded with police officers and hundreds of shocked residents.

 

“We could see the body when we were up here last night and it was scary as hell, we were freaking out,” said resident Dana Scott, an Auburn student.

 

Scott and other residents, mostly Auburn students, either left their apartments or were unable to get inside of them due to the investigation.

“It was crazy last night, I got off of work and I wasn't even able to get into my apartment, they wouldn't even let us in,” said resident Sid Swaminathan, also an Auburn student.

“I never would have seen anything like this happening here in Auburn,” Swaminathan said. “Everyone is just in shock right now that something like this happened, especially to students.”

In a press conference Sunday, Auburn Police Chief Tommy Dawson said the three people killed in the shootings were Former Auburn University football players Ed Christian and Ladarious Phillips, and Auburn student Demario Pitts, all 20-years-old.

“We owe it to the victims in this case and their families to get to the bottom of this case, and I don’t feel it’s appropriate at this time to discuss the evidence,” Chief Dawson said.

Dawson said police obtained three capital murder warrants for Leonard’s arrest.

“We are currently in an active man hunt in Montgomery, Alabama with the U.S. Marshals and Montgomery Police Department and Auburn Police Detectives,” Dawson said, in addition to other local agencies assistance in the investigation.

Dawson said Leonard fled the scene of the shooting in a vehicle with two other men, Officers located the abandoned vehicle in Macon County Sunday, and the other men are now considered persons of interest in the case.

Sid Swaminathan said he had seen Leonard in Auburn before and is still trying to process the reality of what happened. “It’s crazy to think that you know someone that could do something like that,” he said.

Auburn Police Chief Dawson assured the public that, “We'll find him today, if not we won't stop until we do, we wont rest at the Auburn Police division until he is located.”

As of Sunday evening, Dawson believes Leonard is in Montgomery, and said he’s “considered armed and dangerous.”

Of the three injured gunshot victims, Xavier Moss and current Auburn football player Eric Mack have been treated and released. John Robertson was shot in the head; he is in critical condition after having surgery at UAB.

 

If you have any information regarding Desmonte Leonard, you're asked to call 334-223-5400 or 911.

 

This is a developing story, CBS-8 News will be updating it as information becomes available.

 





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