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3 killed in shooting near Auburn University

AUBURN, Ala. -- Investigators were searching for a gunman who killed three people, including two former Auburn University football players, and wounded three others at a pool party near campus after several men began punching each other in a fight over a woman, authorities and witnesses said yesterday.

Desmonte Leonard opened fire at the party at an apartment complex, Auburn Police Chief Tommy Dawson said. Federal marshals joined police in the hunt for Leonard, who faces three counts of capital murder.

Slain were Edward Christian, who had not been playing because of a back injury, and Ladarious Phillips, who had previously quit playing football. The other person killed was 20-year-old Demario Pitts.

Current player Eric Mack, who was injured, was treated and released, a hospital official said. Xavier Moss and John Robertson were also wounded, officials said. Robertson had been shot in the head and was in critical condition; Moss was released from the hospital.

Dawson urged Leonard to turn himself in and also said authorities were searching for two other persons of interest.

Dawson said the football team was connected to the shooting only because current and former players were victims. He said he did not know why the party was being held, or what sparked the fight.

Turquorius Vines, 23, said he was at the party Saturday evening with a friend, Pitts. He said they were approached by two men who started arguing with them over a woman.

Vines said he punched one of them, while 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.

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