- Associated Press - Monday, June 11, 2012

AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — Authorities searched Monday for a gunman suspected of killing three people and wounding three others in a weekend shooting at a pool party near Auburn University that a witness said began with a fight over a woman.

Two of the slain victims were former players for the school’s powerhouse football program.

Authorities were searching for Desmonte Leonard, 22, of Montgomery, Ala., who is accused of opening fire Saturday night at an apartment complex after getting into a fight with some of the victims over a woman. He faces three counts of capital murder.

Auburn police Chief Tommy Dawson said Mr. Leonard fled the scene in a white Chevrolet that he abandoned on the way back to Montgomery, about 55 miles away. They believe he is in the Montgomery area.

Of the three wounded victims, John Robertson remained in critical condition after being shot in the head. Xavier Moss was released from the hospital. The third wounded victim was Eric Mack, a current football player who is expected to recover.

Slain were Edward Christian, who had to quit the team because of a lingering back injury, and Ladarious Phillips, who  previously had quit playing football. The other person killed was 20-year-old Demario Pitts.

Police emphasized that the shootings didn’t appear to have anything to do with some of the victims being former or current players on the football team, which won the national championship in 2010.

“The only connection that the Auburnfootball team has to this is they are victims of a brutal shooting. Sometimes the young men get a bad rap, I feel like, but they are the victims today,” Chief Dawson said.

The chief said he did not know why the party was being held or what started the fight.

Turquorius Vines, 23, said he was at the party Saturday evening at the University Heights apartments with one of his friends, Mr. Pitts. He said he and his friend were approached by two other men who started arguing with them over a woman.

Mr. Vines said he punched one of the men, while Mr. Pitts hit both of the men over the head with a bottle. Either one or both of the two men then started shooting, he said. He said Mr. Pitts was shot and killed, while two others also were hit by gunfire. Mr. Vines said he had never met the men with whom he argued.

“It’s like I lost a lung,” Mr. Vines said of losing his friend. “I don’t know how I’m going to survive this.”

Several emergency vehicles converged overnight around the apartment complex, where many university students live. The building was swathed in yellow police tape.

It appeared that the shooting happened in an archway near the apartment complex information center, near the edge of the parking lot.

The apartment complex was the scene of another shooting in April.

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