Two former Auburn players killed, one current player wounded in shooting

By Tom Fornelli | College Football Writer
Two former Auburn football players have died after a shooting at an off-campus housing complex near Auburn University Saturday night.

Former players Ed Christian and Ladarious Phillips (pictured) were shot and killed in the incident according to police. Current player Eric Mack was shot and hospitalized.

Christian was found dead on the scene while Phillips died at the nearby East Alabama Medical Center. A third victim named Demario Pitts also died at the hospital. All three men were 20 years old.

Mack has been released from the hospital after being treated for "non-life-threatening injuries" and is expected to make a full recovery. Police said six victims were shot in all.

Police said the suspect in the shooting, Desmonte Leonard, is still at large and believed to be hiding somewhere in Montgomery. He is considered "armed and extremely dangerous." Leonard is wanted on three counts of capital murder.

Per an AL.com source, a fight reportedly broke out between several men at a party at the University Heights apartment complex clubhouse. Two of the men involved in the fight left and returned to the scene with guns and began shooting indiscriminately.

Another witness told the Montgomery Advertiser that as many as seven Auburn football players were at the event. The same witness said that the shooter had blocked the exit out of the clubhouse before opening fire on the crowd.

A witness, Turquorius Vines, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the shooting started over a girl. According to Vines, who is not an Auburn student, he was partying with several friends at the apartment complex when the shooting broke out.

“It was about a female,” Vines told the paper. “It started from a female. We were trying to get away from the trouble and it ended up right in our face.”

"[The party] went from us chilling with all these females to a massacre for no reason at all. It happened so quick, in about a second.”

Police emphasized that "the only connection the Auburn football team has to do this is they are victims of a brutal shooting."

Auburn issued the following statement on Sunday afternoon:
"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."
Gene Chizik issued a statement as well:
"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 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."
All three of the players were part of Auburn's 2010 recruiting class. Christian stopped playing football because of a bad back and Phillips gave up the game. Mack is an offensive lineman.


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