Suspect in Auburn Killings to Appear in Court


Law enforcement officers from multiple jurisdictions are seeking Desmonte Leonard, 22, in the fatal shooting of three men in an off-campus apartment complex near Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama about 10 p.m. on Saturday, June 9, 2012. (This booking photo is from a previous incident.)

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By the CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) — The man suspected of killing three people and wounding others near Auburn University is expected to make his first appearance in court Thursday, two days after turning himself in.

Desmonte Leonard, 22, reported to U.S. marshals at the federal courthouse in Montgomery, Alabama on Tuesday, according to Montgomery County Sheriff D.T. Marshall.

Leonard faces three counts of capital murder and two counts of assault, said Auburn Police Chief Tommy Dawson.

The suspect turned himself in hours after a small army of law enforcement officers swarmed a Montgomery home where he was believed to be hiding and came up empty-handed.

Police surrounded and searched the house for more than six hours Tuesday, spraying “a powerful dose” of tear gas in hopes of flushing out the man.

Police believed Leonard was in the house after receiving three calls indicating he was 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.

Two other men have been jailed on charges of hindering prosecution in the case.

Auburn police said one of those arrested, Jeremy Thomas, 18, left the scene of the shootings with Leonard. Montgomery police say Gabriel Thomas, 41, tried to mislead investigators during the search, and they arrested him Sunday at the request of U.S. Marshals.

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.

Arriving officers found Edward Christian, 20, dead at the scene.

Christian, of Valdosta, Georgia, was off the football team because of an injury, Dawson said. Former player Ladarious Phillips, 20, and Auburn resident Demario Pitts, 20, died later at a hospital, he said.

Two others, including current Auburn sophomore offensive lineman Eric Mack, 20, of Cameron, South Carolina, and another man, Xavier Moss, 19, were treated and released from a medical facility.

A third man, John Robertson, 20, was in critical condition after being shot in the head.

Witness Turquorius Vines told CNN affiliate WGCL the violence was sudden.

“It went from us chilling with all these females to a massacre for no reason at all,” he said.

CNN’s Joe Sutton, Moni Basu, David Mattingly, Greg Morrison and Ashley Hayes contributed to this report.

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