Police arrest 2 in Auburn shootings; alleged gunman still at large
Gabriel Thomas, left, was arrested for providing false information to authorities while Jeremy Thomas, right, was arrested for hindering the prosecution. (Source: Montgomery Police Department/Auburn Police Division)
Police released this image of Desmonte Leonard, 22, who they suspect opened fire at a party, killing 3 and injuring 3. (Source: Auburn Police Division)
Former Auburn football players 20-year-old LaDarious Phillips, left, and 20-year-old Ed Christian, right, were shot and killed Saturday night. (Source: WBRC/WALB)
AUBURN, AL (RNN) - Two days after a shooting at an apartment complex near Auburn University left three dead - including two former Auburn football players - a second arrest has been made in the case.
Jeremy Thomas, 18, was arrested for hindering the prosecution in the first degree. Auburn police officials said he is one of three people who fled the scene after the shooting late Saturday night.
Court records show Thomas has a criminal past. According to WSFA, he was arrested and charged with manslaughter after the death of a 14-year-old girl in June 2011. His trial date is set for June 18.
Police also arrested Gabriel Thomas, 41, late Sunday evening for providing false information to law enforcement officers after it was determined he had made contact with the suspected shooter, WSFA reported.
Police are still searching the Montgomery, AL, area for Desmonte Leonard, 22, the alleged shooter Saturday night. Police have issued three capital murder warrants for his arrest and warned Sunday they expect he is armed and "extremely dangerous."
Six people were shot after an argument at a party at the University Heights apartment complex, just a mile and a half from the Auburn campus, around 10 p.m. Saturday night.
Former Auburn offensive lineman Ed Christian, 20, and fullback LaDarious Phillips, 20, were both shot to death. Christian had been playing with the team, but left because of injury and was found dead at the scene. Phillips was pronounced dead at the East Alabama Medical Center.
Auburn resident DeMario Pitts, 20, was also killed.
Another player set to join the team's offensive line, 20-year-old Eric Mack, was among the injured, although he is expected to survive. Xavier Moss, 19, was treated and released from the East Alabama Medical Center. John Robertson, 20, is still struggling for life at the UAB Medical Center with critical injuries.
"It was a fight that obviously someone got out of hand and shot and killed three people and critically injured another," Auburn Police Chief Tommy Dawson said at a press conference.
Police said they had found a possible motive, but would not discuss the details of the case.
"It went from us chilling with females to a massacre … for no reason," an unidentified witness told Montgomery's WSFA.
Despite early speculation that Auburn University football players may have opened fire at the party, Dawson told the press, "The only connection that the Auburn football program has to this is that they are victims of a brutal shooting."
The U.S. Marshals are offering a $5,000 for information leading to the capture of Leonard, and the FBI is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to Leonard's conviction.
Various faculty, staff members, students and fans have expressed grief and disbelief over the shooting.
"I am devastated by the passing of three young men, including two that I personally knew in Ed Christian and Ladarious Phillips," Auburn football coach Gene Chizik said in a statement. "We have a lot of people on our football team that are hurting right now and we're going to do everything we can to help them get through this. We are relieved that Eric Mack, who was also a victim in this incident, is expected to make a full recovery."
"We're deeply saddened about last night's tragic events that impacted the Auburn community and the Auburn family," Auburn University President Jay Gogue said in a statement. "Our heartfelt condolences go out to the victims and their families. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers."
The case is being investigated by the Auburn Police Division, the FBI, the U.S. Marshal's Service, the Lee County Coroner's Office and the State Medical Examiner's Office. Members of the Montgomery and Opelika police departments and the Lee County and Macon County sheriff's offices are also assisting in the case.
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