Two former Auburn University football players were among three people killed in an off-campus shooting over the weekend that left three others hospitalized with gunshot wounds.
Ladarious Phillips of Roanoke, Alabama, and Ed Christian of Valdosta, Georgia, were killed when a gunman opened fire following a June 9 fight at an apartment complex in Auburn, Alabama, police said. Both were 20 years old, as was the third person who died, Demario Pitts of Opelika, Alabama.
Three additional victims were taken to East Alabama Medical Center for treatment of gunshot wounds, including Eric Mack, a sophomore offensive lineman for the Tigers. The shooter, who fled the scene in a vehicle with two other people, remains at large, Auburn police said.
“The only connection that the Auburn football team has to this is they’re the victims of a brutal shooting,” Auburn Police Chief Tommy Dawson said at a news conference. “Sometimes the young men get a bad rap, I feel like, but they’re the victims.”
Dawson said police, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Marshal’s Service are trying to find Desmonte Leonard, 22, of Montgomery, Alabama, who is wanted on three warrants for capital murder. His vehicle was found abandoned.
Phillips was a fullback for Auburn last season, while Christian didn’t play football because of a back injury.
“This is a sad, sad day for everyone associated with the entire Auburn family,” Tigers coach Gene Chizik said in a statement. “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.”
Chizik said Mack is expected to make a full recovery.