Fatal shooting near Auburn University; three football players rumored to be among the victims; Update: AP confirms

Twitter is buzzing with unconfirmed rumors that three Auburn University football players were among the victims of a shooting at University Heights apartment complex near Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama. (Photo, above, from the scene of the shooting is courtesy of The Auburn Plainsman.)

At this point it is not known how many people were shot or how many were killed. Nor is it known how many of the victims, if any, were former or current Auburn University football players.

Local and national mainstream media outlets have chosen not to report the names of any of the shooting victims.

@nzimmett @thomasryanjones @troycnn thanks, but we've been very scrupulous about not naming names until officially confirmed and (cont.)

— Evan Woodbery (@TheSaintsBeat) June 10, 2012

The Auburn Plainsman, the University’s student newspaper, reportedly tweeted an “unofficial report” stating that “former Tigers Ed Christian and Ladarious Phillips have died while former Calhoun County standout and current Auburn Tiger Eric Mack was wounded by a gunshot.”

RT @TheAUPlainsman Unofficial: Ed Christian pronounced dead at university village. Ladarious Phillips dead in… http://t.co/zow4QIYT

— rolandsmartin (@rolandsmartin) June 10, 2012

Twitchy has been unable to confirm any of these details. There is nothing about the shooting on the Auburn Plainsman’s website and as of 7:57 ET,  @TheAUPlainsman Twitter feed does not name any of the shooting victims. (Update: Apparently the Plainsman did tweet the above but subsequently deleted its own tweet. Hat tip: commenter spot_the_dog.)

Meanwhile, Twitter and other social media outlets are filled with reports from people who claim to be in Auburn:

Just saw Eric Mack he's looking good, and my heart is hurting for my brothers lost tonight Ed Christian was second to none #godbless

— Joey Caldwell (@gentJoe47AU) June 10, 2012

An anonymous Reddit user who claims to have been on the scene at the time of the shooting wrote this:

“I live at the apartment complex where this happened. I was just up there. I saw one of the dead bodies. Saw his face. Definitely Ed Christian.”

In a subsequent post, the Reddit user elaborated:

My experience

Some friends and I were getting ready to go out to watch the boxing match at a bar. We stopped by a friend’s apartment a bit closer to the front of the complex on our way out.

We were sitting in the living room area when we heard what sounded to me like firecrackers. bang bangbangbangbang We all stopped and looked at each other. One of my friends dropped on the floor. We all went to a separate room, further back in the apartment. One of the other guys there said he heard more shots after we left the room.

We called 911, who said they already had officers on the way out. We looked out the window, where we had a pretty good view of the pool area and front of the complex. Which is where it all happened.

There were so many fucking people just fucking running the fuck away from the front. I could hear someone screaming. This screaming was unlike anything I’ve ever heard in my life. I don’t know if I heard someone screaming in pain or someone screaming in shock at seeing something. I left the room briefly. When I came back, the screaming had stopped. I don’t know if that screaming was from someone who died or someone who fled. Police arrived soon after. Saw them walking around with a flashlight.

We got in the car and tried to leave, only to be told that the complex is on lockdown. We’re not allowed to leave. No one is allowed in or out.

We got out and walked up to the front to see what we could see. The whole front of the complex is roped off with crime scene tape. There were ambulances, but they’re gone now. There’s firetrucks and shitload of police cars. Forensics showed up an hour or two ago.

My friend and I were able to get up pretty close. Saw one of the bodies. He’s lying on his back, kinda sprawled out. They had a white sheet over him. He’d bled through it. I guess he was shot in his chest.

Later on, forensics walked up to the body and lifted the sheet. Saw the guys face. As I said above, it was clearly Ed Christian.

That’s about all I saw. Spent a lot of time talking to people hanging around the scene.

Trying to figure out how to get out of my fucking lease. If anyone has advice, I would certainly appreciate it.

What I’ve pieced together

There was a group of people at the front of the complex. It was not a pool party, like everyone keeps saying. Some kind of argument started up. A fist fight broke out. Ed Christian was not one of the people fighting. He was holding one of his friends back, trying to stop the fight, when he was shot.

We’re pretty sure that Ladarious Philips (sorry if I spelled his name wrong) is another casualty.

We just heard that Eric Mack, who was taken from the scene to the hospital, has since died.

That’s all I know currently.

Many Twitter users believe the unconfirmed reports to be true and are sending their condolences:

@BreakingNews AUBURN COLLEGE FOOTBALL: former/current plyrs killed in shooting @ University Heights #EdChristian #LadariousPhillips

— Jessica Matney (@JessicaMatney) June 10, 2012

RIP Ed Christian one of the best players I ever played against in my life

— Xzavier Ward (@XtheLegend) June 10, 2012

RIP Ed Christian and Ladarious Phillips. Your lives were cut far too short. #AuburnShooting

— Jason Kline (@jaskline2007) June 10, 2012

Its crazy how I use to compete with ladarius phillips in football and track 2 years ago and now he's gone #thoushallnotkill

— Justin Cole (@TheJustinCole) June 10, 2012

I lost one of my teammate 2nite and lost my homeboi. RIP Ladarius Phillips

— CaptainGC6✈ (@TheAstronaut_6) June 10, 2012

Wow. Auburn's Ed Christian was a terrific kid to cover in recruiting. Always enjoyed speaking with him and he was always joking around. #RIP

— Tom Loy (@TomLoy247) June 10, 2012

https://twitter.com/BamaGentleman/status/211811019364900864

RIP Ladarius Phillips, you were a terror on the field, and an inspiration for kids that wear that #handleytigers jersey!

— BamaJunky (@2willthewill5) June 10, 2012

* * *

In a post published a few months ago, Bleacher Report noted that Ladarious Phillips received national attention as a high schooler: “This attention came in large part because a) 300 lb. running backs don’t surface, well, ever and b) his high-school-highlight footage was nothing short of remarkable.”

Here is that highlight reel:

* * *

Update: A local ESPN radio station reports the names of the rumored victims:

Ed Christian and Ladarius Phillips rumored to have been killed in a shooting. Thoughts and prayers go out to the entire #Auburn community.

— ESPN 105.1 The Zone (@1051TheZone) June 10, 2012

Will @ESPN and other national networks follow suit?

* * *

Update: This appears to be Ed Christian’s Twitter page:

https://twitter.com/#!/BigEd_68

This appears to be Eric Mack’s Twitter page:

https://twitter.com/#!/Mr_Showtime60

* * *

Update, 3:29 pm Eastern time: Associated Press confirms the rumors: Christian and Phillips were killed; Mack was wounded.

Shooting at a party near Auburn University leaves three dead, including two former football players: http://t.co/dMt7DLwT -CC

— The Associated Press (@AP) June 10, 2012

Police identify the shooting suspect as Desmonte Leonard: “Police said he should be considered armed and extremely dangerous, and an active manhunt is under way.”

Read more: http://twitchy.com/2012/06/10/fatal-shooting-near-auburn-university-three-football-players-reportedly-among-the-victims/