- Associated Press - Sunday, December 14, 2014

AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn freshman football player Jakell Mitchell was fatally shot early Sunday at an off-campus apartment complex where two former football players and another person were killed in a shooting in 2012.

Auburn Police Capt. Will Matthews said police responded at 12:25 a.m. to a call of shots fired at the Tiger Lodge apartment complex, where the 18-year-old player was found. Mitchell was later pronounced dead at a hospital after being taken there by private vehicle.

Matthews said an investigation was ongoing and no suspects have been taken into custody in the immediate hours after the shooting. He declined to release further details.

Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said in a statement he was “devastated and saddened” by Mitchell’s death.

“My thoughts and prayers are with Jakell’s family and friends, who are suffering through this senseless tragedy. 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,” Malzahn said in that statement.

The apartment complex was quiet Sunday, with large amounts of broken glass on the ground. Police had spray-painted the ground in spots, apparently marking evidence, and a red car with the license plate “Jakell” was seen being towed away.

Mitchell redshirted this season for Auburn out of nearby Opelika High School. He was expected to compete next season for a role as a running back or a tight end. Mitchell missed his senior season at Opelika as he recovered from an injury to an ACL in one of his knees. He rushed for 392 yards and 17 touchdowns in 2013 as a junior.

Drake Ledet, an Auburn sophomore who lives in a building near the complex, said he heard several gunshots shortly after midnight. He said there were two parties being held in the area.

“I’d say it was at least eight [shots],” Ledet said, adding that he looked out his window to see what was going on. “People were screaming … I saw people scattering everywhere, getting in their cars.”

In a statement, Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs issued called the shooting a “terrible tragedy” in a statement.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to Jakell Mitchell’s family and those who have been impacted by this terrible tragedy,” he said. “This is a very trying time for those close to Jakell, including the student-athletes, coaches, staff and [the] Auburn family. We will provide counseling and support and do everything we can to help them through the grieving process.”

Sunday’s shooting happened at the same apartment complex where authorities say Desmonte Leonard killed three men at a party in the summer of 2012. The complex, located a few miles from campus, is popular with students, and its name was changed following that shooting.

Jurors convicted Leonard of capital murder in the shooting deaths of former Auburn football players Ed Christian and Ladarious Phillips, along with DeMario Pitts. Three other people were wounded.

Leonard’s attorney said that 2012 shooting stemmed from a fight and that Leonard fired in self-defense. Prosecutors argued that Leonard aimed at the victims and wasn’t involved in the initial fight.

Leonard will be sentenced on Jan. 20. The jury recommended life without parole, but the judge could still sentence him to death.

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