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Gunman of 2 Murdered Former Auburn Football Players Remains At Large

Three capital murder warrants have been issued and a U.S. Marshall manhunt is underway for 22-year-old DesMonte Leonard, who is accused of killing three people, including a pair of former Auburn University football players following a fight, police said.

Edward Christian, 20, an offensive lineman from Valdosta who was red-shirted during the last season and is currently side-lined with back injuries, was killed at the scene. police said.

Christian, who graduated from Lowndes High School in 2010, after being named to the the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s 2009 Super 11, a list of the 11 standout high school football players selected at the beginning of each season.

Ladarious Phillips, 20, who reportedly quit playing football after also being listed in the 2011 Auburn football roster as a red-shirt freshman, was taken to East Alabama  Medical Center in Opelika, Ala., where he died, authorities said.

Demario Pitts, 20, who is not a football player but lived in Opelika, died after the shooting at a nearby hospital, police said.

One more victim, 20-year-old John Robertson, is “fighting for his life” at University of Alabama Birmingham hospital, Auburn Police chief Tommy Dawson told reporters Sunday afternoon.

Two more men, Xavier Moss, 19, and sophomore Tigers offensive lineman Eric Mack suffered minor injuries, police said.

The incident happened late Saturday night at an off-campus apartment complex where a pool party was being held with reportedly between 200 and 300 people.

Christian was ranked the No. 19 prep offensive tackle in the country by ESPN following the 2009 season. He originally committed to Florida State, but changed his mind for Auburn.

A fight began at the party when shots were fired, Dawson said.

“Someone got carried away, and someone got shot,” he said.

Turquorius Vines, who is not a student at Auburn, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution he was partying with several friends, including former Auburn football players, at the University Heights complex a couple of miles from campus shortly before midnight when the gunfire broke out.

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

Vines told the Associated Press that he and one of the victims got into a dispute with two men. He said he punched one of the men, and his friend broke a bottle over at least one of the men’s head.

Then, one or both of the men began shooting, Vines said.

Vines did not say which friend was with him.

The incident happened outside the gated apartment complexes club house, which is outside the gates.

The party “went from us chilling with all these females to a massacre for no reason at all,” Vines told the AJC. “It happened so quick, in about a second.”

As dawn broke Sunday, the parking lot in front of the complex’s clubhouse remained cordoned off by yellow police tape.

Several police technicians continued to process the scene. One searched the bushes and parking lot with a metal detector, while two others took measurements with surveying equipment.

Dawson called the shooting tragic and said it was particularly sad that it involved students and student athletes, and he has asked the public to cautiously help police find Leonard.

“He is to be considered armed and extremely dangerous,” Dawson said.

Police are also seeking two persons of interest whom Dawson declined to identify.

“They know who they are, and it would be good if they contacted … police,” he said.

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