AUBURN, AL (WTVM) - The girlfriend of slain Auburn University football player Jakell Mitchell said the 18-year-old was involved in an argument prior to being shot early Sunday morning, according to the Associated Press.
Ayanna Hughuley, 17, told the AP that Mitchell was having an argument with one man before another man approached him brandishing a weapon. Hughuley said she did not know what the argument was about.
"He just started shooting. Jakell fell on the ground and he tried to get back up and run, and then he fell again. He started shooting at Jakell again while Jakell was on the ground," Hughuley told the AP.
News Leader 9's Elizabeth White reports that 22-year-old Markale Hart, of Camp Hill, AL, was arrested and charged with Mitchell's murder.
APD's immediate investigation into Mitchell's shooting death led to Hart being named as a suspect. Auburn detectives traveled to Dadeville, AL and with the assistance of the Tallapoosa County Sheriff Department and Jackson Gap Police, were able to locate Hart and take him into custody. The case remains under investigation by the Auburn Police Division and the State Medical Examiner's Office. No additional arrests are anticipated.
Hart is currently being held at the Lee County Jail on a $150,000 bond. This isn't Hart's first run-in with law enforcement. The murder suspect has several prior charges on his record in Alabama, including first-degree burglary, first-degree theft of property and various drug charges. Hart also have an arrest history in South Carolina; 2011, Hart was arrested and charged with unlawful carrying of a pistol and failure to appear.
Mitchell, an Auburn University redshirt freshman football player was shot and killed shortly after midnight on Sunday at an apartment complex where a previous shooting took place just two years ago. He did not live in the Tiger Lodge Apartments where the shooting occurred, but was there attending a part.
Police officials confirmed that the 18-year-old Auburn University student-athlete, of Opelika, died as a result of the shooting in the 200 block of West Longleaf Drive. Nobody else was injured.
Mitchell was taken to East Alabama Medical Center with multiple gunshot wounds to the chest and died shortly after arriving to the emergency room.
An Auburn sophomore who lives in a residence near Tiger Lodge told the Associated Press that at the time gunshots were heard, two parties were happening at the apartment complex.
Mitchell was a football player at Auburn University, committed to play in 2013 after graduating from Opelika High School. He redshirted this last football season and was set to contend for starting spots at H-back and tight end.
Mitchell's death is being treated as a homicide and his body was taken to the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences medical examiner in Montgomery, AL for postmortem examination.
The AU and SEC football community have begun to extend their condolences to Mitchell's family on social media.
The university released a brief statement, saying: "Our thoughts and prayers go out to Jakell's family and many friends. Auburn offers support services, and we encourage those in need to contact the Division of Student Affairs."
The head coach of Mitchell's high school football team, Brian Blackmon tweeted Sunday, saying: "The sadness I feel right now is overwhelming. My hope is in Jesus. My prayers are that Mitchell family will find Peace in Him also."
Both Jacobs and Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn have released statements on Sunday.
"I'm devastated and saddened by the passing of Jakell Mitchell. My thoughts and prayers are with Jakell's family and friends, who are suffering through this senseless tragedy," Malzahn said. "I know the Auburn Family is hurting, especially our players and coaches, and we are going to love and support them through this difficult time. We have lost a member of our family too young, too soon."
"Our thoughts and prayers go out to Jakell Mitchell's family and those who have been impacted by this terrible tragedy," Jacobs said. "This is a very trying time for those close to Jakell, including the student-athletes, coaches, staff and Auburn Family. We will provide counseling and support and do everything we can to help them through the grieving process."
Described as a humble and dedicated young man, Jakell was a star on and off the field at Opelika High School.
"He was just a great spirit. A great spirit when he was born you just looked at him and you know he was going to be something he was going to be somebody and at fie years old we knew what he wanted to be and that was to be a football player," Jakell's father Mario Mitchell told News Leader 9's Elizabeth White on Sunday.
Mitchell missed his senior year at Opelika due to an ACL injury, but had 17 rushing touchdowns and 400 receiving yards in his junior year, and was still a top recruit in Alabama before committing to Auburn.
The shooting happened at the same apartment complex where Desmonte Leonard shot and killed three men, among them Auburn University football players, and injured three more people during a 2012 mass shooting at a pool party.
Tiger Lodge Apartments, where the shooting happened, released the following statement on its Facebook page:
A shooting occurred early this morning at our community. The Auburn Police Department and our onsite security officer responded to the incident. That shooting resulted in the death of Jakell Mitchell. We are cooperating fully with police as they investigate this matter.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to Jakell Mitchell's family, friends and the entire Auburn University community. When tragedies such as this occur, everyone is affected, and we all mourn his loss.
Your well being is of utmost importance to us. A courtesy officer lives onsite and is available to you 24/7. We also have a security officer onsite in the evenings.
If you have any questions regarding this morning's incident, we encourage you to call or stop by the front office. This is an ongoing police investigation, but we will be monitoring the situation and do our best to keep you updated.
If you have any information on this shooting, you are asked to call the Auburn Police Department.
Please stay with News Leader 9 and WTVM.com for more information on this fatal shooting in Auburn.