Suspect in Auburn Killings Turns Self in
(CNN) — The suspect accused of killing three people and wounding others near Auburn University turned himself into authorities late Tuesday, Montgomery County, Alabama, Sheriff D.T. Marshall told CNN.
The development came hours after a small army of law enforcement officers swarmed a Montgomery home where Desmonte Leonard was believed to be hiding and came up empty-handed.
Police surrounded and searched the house for more than six hours, spraying “a powerful dose” of tear gas in hopes of flushing out the man accused of killing three people and wounding three others at nearby Auburn University.
They scaled down their efforts at the house Tuesday after they could not find Leonard, 22, who is wanted on three counts of capital murder.
The officers from local, state and federal agencies looked frustrated, CNN affiliate WFSA reported.
Police defended the raid at a news conference Tuesday after reports surfaced that they had gone to the wrong house and used excessive force.
Montgomery Police Chief Kevin Murphy said he had every reason to believe Leonard had once been in the attic. Police called on him to come out. They did not get a response, although they heard coughing and detected movement in the attic.
By the time they launched a raid on the house, the suspect was gone.
“We didn’t go into that house foot by foot. We took it inch by inch,” Murphy said. “We didn’t want anybody else to get hurt. We did everything right.”
Auburn Police Chief Tommy Dawson implored Leonard to turn himself in.
“This has gone on long enough,” he said. “We’re going to apprehend him, sooner or later. When you’re looking for the murderer of three young men, I don’t think it’s a song and dance.”
Police received three calls about Leonard being in the area; the third was from a woman who owned the house. She said she returned from work to find a man who looked like the suspect sitting on her couch, said Montgomery Mayor Tommy Strange.
She then ran out to her car and called police, he said.
Saturday night’s shootings took place at an off-campus apartment complex in Auburn, about 50 miles east of Montgomery. The dead included two former Auburn football players. A current football player was among the wounded.
“This has been an incredibly difficult 72 hours,” Gene Chizik, Auburn’s head football coach, told reporters Tuesday. “The whole Auburn family is devastated.”
“We’ve got a road ahead of us right now, and it’s a long road of grieving,” he said.
CNN’s Joe Sutton, Moni Basu, David Mattingly, Greg Morrison and Ashley Hayes contributed to this report.