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The Auburn Plainsman A SPIRIT THAT IS NOT AFRAID www.theplainsman.com

SENSELESS

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Vol. 119, Issue 5, 8 Pages

“...the most important thing to remember is the families of the victims.”

DANIELLE LOWE / PHOTO EDITOR

Auburn Police Chief Tommy Dawson announced on Tuesday night that alleged gunman Desmonte Leonard turned himself in to the Montgomery Federal Courthouse after nearly three days of searching. Leonard is suspected of killing two former Auburn football players and one Auburn resident late Saturday night.

After two former Auburn football players and one Auburn resident were killed Saturday night, Desmonte Leonard, suspect in the fatal shooting, surrendered and is in custody

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The hunt for Desmonte Leonard is over, but the grief and pain of the three young men’s deaths still rings through Auburn like the bells of Samford Hall. Leonard, a Montgomery resident and the suspected gunman in the June 9 shooting at University Heights apartment, allegedly killed Auburn resident Demario Pitts and former Auburn football players Ladarious Phillips and Ed Christian. Leonard turned himself in to the U.S. Marshals Tuesday, June 12, after his attorney Susan James arranged a deal that he would be taken in peacefully and without media coverage, James said in an interview with WSFA Montgomery. James would not specify where Leonard was, but said she received word that Leonard wanted to turn himself in, according to the Associated Press. James and her son picked Leonard up approximately 50 miles away from Montgomery, and at 7:57 p.m., U.S. Marshal Art Baylor, former Montgomery Police Chief, took him into custody at the state capital’s federal courthouse. “It needed to be resolved peacefully, so I reached out to Marshal Baylor and asked if he would be our point person,” James told WSFA shortly after the arrest was made. An hour later, Auburn Police Chief Tommy Dawson officially broke the news to Auburn in a press conference at the Auburn Police Division saying that Baylor was “instrumental in facilitating” Leonard’s surrender.

June 9

“Marshall Baylor has a very high reputation in the Montgomery community,” Dawson said Tuesday. “We wouldn’t be here tonight announcing this if it wasn’t for (him).” The overall mood, however, was less than celebratory. The suspect had been caught, the search was over and the investigation was nearing completion. And yet, Dawson reminded everyone that the capture of one man does not erase the murders of three others. “It’s a relief that we have him in custody, and we can wrap up loose ends and proceed, but in some sense… there is no relief, because those boys aren’t coming home tonight,” Dawson said. When the arrest was announced, no toilet paper streamed from the branches of the Toomer’s trees, and yet, like the trees, the city of Auburn can now begin the healing process. “I know your young men won’t be coming home, but hopefully this arrest gives you some kind of closure,” Dawson said in a solemn address to the victims’ families. Leonard has been charged with three counts of capital murder and two counts of first degree assault, according to Dawson. According to Alabama Code 13A – 5 – 40, Leonard was charged with capital murder for “murder wherein two or more persons are murdered by the defendant by one act or pursuant to one scheme or course of conduct,” a fact confirmed by Captain Tom Stofer of the Auburn Police Department. Dawson also said no bond will be posted for

June 10

Leonard, and he is scheduled to be arraigned Thursday June 14 at the Lee County Courthouse.

THE SHOOTING

The triple homicide occurred at a party at the University Heights apartment complex on West Longleaf Drive on Saturday June 9. At 10:03 p.m., Auburn Police received a call reporting gunshots in the area and raced through the rain-soaked streets of Auburn to the scene. Also called in were the FBI, Lee County Sheriff ’s Department, Opelika Police Department, Montgomery Police Department and U.S. Marshals, among numerous other authorities. “On the night of the event, we were in assistance mode with Auburn Police, basically offering any support we could,” said Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones. By the time they arrived, however, it was too late, and by Sunday morning, three leaves had fallen from the Auburn family tree. Authorities said in the aftermath of an argument at what Auburn coach Gene Chizik called “a gathering to watch the NBA Playoffs,” six Auburn residents were shot and three were killed. Christian was found dead on arrival on the sidewalk just outside the front office, and Pitts and Phillips died early Sunday morning after being rushed to the East Alabama Medical Center. Auburn resident Xavier Moss and Auburn sophomore offensive lineman Eric Mack were also taken to EAMC, but were released on Sun-

ED CHRISTIAN

LADARIOUS PHILLIPS

DEMARIO PITTS

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COMMUNITY EDITOR

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Andrew Yawn

June 11

June 12


Campus 2

The Auburn Plainsman

Thursday, June 14, 2012

DANIELLE LOWE / PHOTO EDITOR

At the press conference held Tuesday night at the Auburn Police Department, Chief Tommy Dawson addressed the closure of the case with a final thought to the victims’ families.

SENSELESS » From 1

day. John Robertson suffered a gunshot wound to the head and was taken to the University of Alabama at Birmingham for treatment. His condition remains unknown, but Robertson is “fighting for his life,” according to Dawson. In an exclusive interview with his hometown newspaper The Times and Democrat, Mack said his concern for those around him was so great he didn’t realize he had been shot. “When I first found out I got shot, I didn’t even really realize it,” Mack said. “I was still walking around checking on my teammates making sure they were all right.” Mack was shot in the buttocks, according to the The Times and Democrat, but after he had checked on those around him, his next thoughts went to someone who wasn’t at the scene: his 4-year-old daughter Kaliyah. “I thought, ‘If I don’t make it home, who’s going to take care of her?’” he told the The Times and Democrat. Taylor Hilo, junior in sociology, was with Auburn football junior kicker Cody Parkey and junior linebacker Jake Holland when they heard the news. “(We) were at Moe’s and Cody got a text from the team manager and said Coach Chizik says all the players need to go home,” Hilo said. “Ten minutes later, (defensive end) Corey Lemonier texted Cody and said there was a shooting at University Heights and Ed Christian was dead.” Chizik addressed the media for the first time Tuesday, June 12

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and said they knew about the shooting soon after it occurred. “At that moment my first concern was that everyone on the football team along with anybody else that was anywhere near the incident was safe,” Chizik said. Richard Trammell, junior in theatre, has lived in University Heights for almost a year and was friends with Phillips at Handley High School in Roanoke. “(Phillips) was a cool guy, he stayed out of trouble… (and) was one of those kinds of people who made friends with everybody,” Trammell said. “I can’t wrap my head around that this could happen at my apartment complex.” Phillips’s coach at Handley, coach Mike Battles, said he got a call from Chizik early Sunday morning. “The initial reaction is shock,” Battle said. “It’s just senseless disregard for life.” Once the crime scene was under control, authorities then began the search for the suspect, but he had already fled, and the only trace of the suspect was a white Chevrolet Caprice abandoned on the side of Wire Road in Macon County, according to Dawson. It wasn’t until a Sunday press conference that Dawson gave a name to the alleged triggerman: Desmonte Leonard.

THE CHASE

After local authorities launched what Dawson labeled an “active manhunt,” they arrested Jeremy Thomas, 18, and Gabriel Thomas, 41, for first degree hindering prosecution. Jeremy, who has a previous gun-related criminal record and is out on bond for manslaughter of a 14-year-old girl last year, allegedly fled Auburn with Leonard. Jeremy was set to go to trial for the manslaughter on Monday June 18, a week after his arrest. Gabriel was reportedly in contact with Leonard and provided authorities with false information to help the two escape, although it is unknown whether or not he and Jeremy are related. Meanwhile, authorities concentrated their search efforts on Leonard’s last known residence: Montgomery. As police scoured the city for Leonard, a source tipped the local police that Leonard was hiding in a home on Barons Court in East Montgomery Monday afternoon. Police received a 911 call that Leonard was in the area from a man who reportedly dropped him off there. Soon after, the resident of the house called 911 reporting that a man who looked like Leonard was sitting on her couch. But the tips proved fruitless, and hours of laying siege to the residence with teargas and thermal probes yielded no results: Leonard was still a free man. Leonard surrendered the next day, but Dawson said whether he turned himself in or not, his capture was inevitable. “You can’t run but so long,” Dawson said after his surrender. “We were going to pursue him until we caught him… (and) we wouldn’t have stopped.” Even though the footwork for the authorities has ended, the paperwork begins for one of the largest cases in recent Auburn history. “This is a capital murder case… the work, in a sense, has just begun,” Dawson said. “We have a lot of things to tie up.” Leonard has a previous criminal record, as well after being

found in a stolen vehicle with a gun and no permit in 2008. He was also charged with assault in 2009 after shooting a 16-year-old in the groin, but was released after the victim said Leonard was not the shooter. Still, Dawson showed some sympathy for Leonard’s family after his apprehension. “You know, Mr. Leonard’s got a mama, and I’m sure she’s grieving just as well, because, in a sense, she’s lost a son,” Dawson said. “I know he shouldn’t have did what he did, but everybody’s got a mama, and your mama always loves you.”

THE AFTERMATH

In the wake of the shooting, myriad questions were asked as media and citizens alike tried t get answers to a case that did not have much public evidence available. However, as the questions began to turn towards the effect of this on Auburn’s football team, Dawson quickly dismissed the football team as the spotlight of the murders. “It’s not just about the football players, but it’s about the other young men,” Dawson said Sunday. “The only connection the Auburn football team has to this is that they are victims of a brutal murder.” Chizik reiterated this to the media Tuesday saying that, at this point, his only concerns are for the emotional well-being of the football team, the six victims and their families. “I’m not worried about football, I don’t care about the football season,” Chizik said. Several Auburn players were scheduled to speak at the conference, but later declined to speak. “Several young men that we have are not ready to do this, I’m not ready to do this, but that is part of my job,” Chizik said. And yet, while this abrupt theft of three young lives was not about the football team, it took extensive teamwork to apprehend the fugitive. “This is probably the greatest effort I’ve ever seen amongst law enforcement and … it really says something about this community and what we have here in Alabama,” Dawson said. “It was a team effort,” said Montgomery Police Chief Kevin Murphy in agreement. “Dawson called me late Saturday night and we stopped what we were doing and went to his assistance, which is what we should all do in a law enforcement family.” Murphy continued to praise the Auburn police force saying Tuesday that they are “one of the finest in the country.” In addition to a cohesive effort by all law enforcement involved, Dawson said the unity of the community made the operation a success. “Community support has been unbelievable over the past few days, (and) we would not be where we’re at without the support of our community,” Dawson said. Support, family, community. These are the words most often heard throughout the aftermath of the shooting, and these are the values that embody the Auburn way. As students lay wreaths in memorial of the victims and hold candlelight vigils for those who were lost, Dawson’s words still linger in the Auburn summer air. “We’ll never forget the victims in this case, (and) we’ll never forget what happened last Saturday night,” Dawson said.

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Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Auburn Plainsman

Campus 3

Memorial to honor those lost

DANIELLE LOWE / PHOTO EDITOR

The memorial is set up at Ross Square. A candle light vigil is scheduled for Thursday at 8 p.m. on Samford lawn.

Demario Pitts

cording to al.com “He was a good kid,” Ranzie told al.com. “It’s been real bad. It’s been tough on us.” The location of service has yet to be announced, but will be on Friday, June 15, at 1 p.m. Visitation will be held from 2 to 7 p.m. on

Thursday, June 14, at the Harris Funeral Home, Inc. chapel. Burial will follow in Pine Level Cemetery in Loachapoka. Arrangements are being handled by Harris Funeral Home, Inc. in Opelika.

Ladarious Phillips:

said Phillips was a rare specimen. “They won’t see the likes of someone like him in Roanoke Alabama for years and years to come,” Battles said. “He’ll be missed–He was something.” Phillip’s grandmother Brenda Phillips told the Anniston Star how his easy-going attitude was apparent all the time. “Every time you’d see him, he was smiling,” Brenda said. “He would come in there and hug me and kiss on me. A lot of time, he’d let me come in there and kiss on him.”

Services will be Friday, June 15, at 1 p.m. at the Handley High School gymnasium at 100 Tiger Circle in Roanoke. The Rev. Harvey Jones of Rehope Baptist Church will be officiating. Visitation will be held prior to the service from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the gymnasium. Burial will follow in Rehope Baptist Church Cemetery at 5267 County Road 258, Roanoke, Ala. Arrangements are being handled by Frederick’s Funeral Home in Opelika.

Ed Christian

proving himself physically and mentally. “Workin my A** off every day,” Christian said in a Facebook comment in August 2010. “Auburn football is life...” Christian suffered a back injury in 2011 and was placed on medical hardship scholarship. Christian’s girlfriend, Kayla Timmons, told al.com that Christian and her talked about his life away from football. “After a while, it got better. We went to two games and he loved it. He got to cheer on his teammates and watch football from a fan’s point of view, and that was really a blessing to see him be OK and accept that,” Timmons said.

In a facebook post in November of 2010, he said, “Family - one heart beat.” Services will be Saturday, June 16, at 1 p.m. at the J.E. Mathis Municipal Auditorium at 2300 N. Ashley St. in Valdosta, Ga. Public visitation will be held from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. on Friday, June 15, at BTW Funeral Services at 1108 E. Screven St. in Quitman, Ga. A private family visitation will also be held on Friday from 6 to 7 p.m. in the same location. Burial will follow in Boston City Cemetery in Boston, Ga. Arrangements are being handled by BTW Funeral Services in Quitman, Ga.

Demario Pitts attended high school in Loachapoka, according to his father, Calvin Ranzie. He had two 1-year-old children. Pitts has a large family of five brothers and two sisters, ac-

After being named to the 2009 4A First Team All-State by the Alabama Sports Writers Association, Ladarious “Dae-Dae” Phillips was known as a humble individual on and off the field. “(Phillips) was an unbelievable high school football player,” said Phillips’ high school football coach Mike Battles. “Great personality, got along with folks, popular–everything you could want from a high school football player and more. From the small town of Roanoke, Ala., Battles

Graduating from Lowndes High School two years ago, Ed Christian was revered by his former high school football coach Randy McPherson. “Ed was a fine young man who made the Lowndes County School System proud,” McPherson said. “We are saddened by the news of his death and share in the grief of his family. As a school system, we are grateful for the contributions Ed made to us and to our community.” Christian, a red-shirt freshman from Valdosta, Ga., never appeared in a game at Auburn, but worked hard during practice and focused on im-


Campus 4

The Auburn Plainsman

Opinions

Thursday, June 14, 2012

4 www.theplainsman.com

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Campus

Our View

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

It is a tough period of time. There are not a lot of answers right now, but we are going to continue day-by-day.” —Gene Chizik AUBURN FOOTBALL COACH

Letter to the Editor

AU ALERT inactive during shooting

age to learn and grow from this awful tragedy. We reach out to comfort the families and friends of all the men who were taken from us before their time. An Irish proverb says, “The tree remains, but not the hand that planted it.” With these words in mind, let us not forget the memory of these men, but honor their lives with a dedicated focus to the continuance of their legacy and to nurture the seeds they have planted here on The Plains. God Bless and War Eagle,

Tragedy is an apt word to describe the event that occurred late Saturday evening. Three men lost their lives, and three others were injured as the result of the actions of an “armed and extremely dangerous man.” Certainly no one is denying that, but surprisingly the University did not feel the need to alert the campus community of his potential presence in the area. Any one browsing their Twitter and Facebook feeds late Saturday night knew that something bad had happened. We did not know the severity or all of the details, but we did know something despicable and dangerous occurred in a student community within close proximity to campus. Bottom line, AU ALERT should have been activated. Let me be clear in saying that I am not asking for AU ALERT to provide me with minute-by-minute updates of the ongoing situation. That’s why I follow news organizations and own a television. However, I do expect to be notified that there might be an “armed and extremely dangerous” individual in the vicinity of campus and the surrounding community. What if I was not awake late at night log onto Facebook or Twitter? Should the University’s argument be that they had no confirmed details and information was not official? My response to that is, “So what?” The system has had no problem alerting us hours after the fact that severe weather that has passed through. So, why should a potential clear and present danger of an “armed and extremely dangerous man” be any different? Granted, it probably isn’t the best move for the University’s public relations department to openly broadcast the events of Saturday night. Camp War Eagle is in full swing, new students and their parents are being introduced to the town and Auburn’s campus, many for the first time, and I am sure there are plenty of other reasons the University would rather not talk about such things. This is the loveliest village on The Plains, and things like this just don’t happen in Auburn. Well, tragedy did happen, and by failing to alert those who signed up for the service, the University failed those who rely on its service. It is time to reevaluate this system. Is AU ALERT only here to let its subscribers know when there is going to be bad weather? Or is the system supposed to alert us of danger, like one would think?

Owen Parrish Senior SGA President

Torey Palmer Higher Education Administration

Auburn family mourns loss, seeks answers We are stunned by the events of this past weekend. Right now, we can't truly process what's going on. We have been constantly surrounded by information since Saturday night, and that information has been heartbreaking. When members of the Auburn family, football players or not, are taken away in such a pointless manner, the entire community feels it. Ladarious Phillips, Edward Christian and Demario Pitts were all 20 years old when their lives abrubtly and tragically ended. They were still very young, just barely out of their teen years, which is one of the most disheartening aspects of this incident. Their families are undoubtedly caught up in whirlwind of inconsolable grief, confusion, anger and depression. We owe it to the victims' families to show as much respect as possible. We also owe a great deal of respect to the family of John Robertson, who is fighting for his life at the hospital at the University of Alabama in Birmingham. However, we also need to show respect to the family of the alleged shooter, Desmonte Leonard.

The unfortunate truth is we don't know exactly what led to the shooting. The supposed eyewitness from the party has no real credibility. Police agencies said there is a high possibility Leonard committed the crime. That is all we have to go on because they will not release the motive or the specific details from the night of the party. What we don't need is all of the hyped-up hatred virally flooding the Internet in personal blogs, Twitter feeds, Facebook accounts, message boards, and unreliable websites. This has only become a catalyst for negativity supported by the democratic right to free speech. The comment sections on sites like al.com are cluttered with racist hate speech calling for the immediate street execution of Leonard. This kind of speech is counterproductive and distracting. Whoever started the false Leonard Twitter account should be ashamed of his or her deplorable actions. You are not funny, and your attempts to seek attention serve only as a display of your ignorance and lack of empathy. The “Free Woosie” trend is equally

repugnant. This situation has nothing to do with race or a police conspiracy. Anyone, black or white, who thinks so is in dire need of psychiatric care. The shooting is not about you. It’s not about your insane logic, and it’s not about your stupidity. All you should be focusing on is respect and humility. When people like you start crying for attention, you make us all look bad. We need some perspective. We are all saddened by this senseless loss of life. However, we do not condone the propagation of violence, and we certainly don't believe in the degradation of the justice system, as flawed as it may be. This is not a time for personal agendas, especially collegiate alliances, and racist ignorance. Auburn Police Chief Tommy Dawson said during Sunday’s press conference, “This is not about Auburn University football players. These young men are all victims of a brutal shooting.” Whenever violence like this happens, people are quick to take sides. Some choose the side of street justice, others choose to use the oppor-

tunity to make their personal beliefs known. Debate over gun laws are being thrown around; the struggles of young black men in America takes a spotlight; and issues of personal safety are drawn up. These arguments all have valid points, but it is not appropriate or respectful to the families of those involved to turn their sorrow into a sounding board. Situations like Saturday night’s shooting remind us of these issues, and it is not our place to tell you what to think. What we ask for is a show of respect and thoughtful support for the families of the victims and fairness to the families of the suspects. Our sincerest hope is that if Leonard is indeed guilty, due justice will be served. After the fruitless standoff in Montgomery, we are thankful he is finally in custody. The Auburn community is in mourning. We are weeping for three young men who deserved better, and we are shocked at the violent disruption of the peacefulness of our community. Chief Dawson said, “We need to learn the value of human life again,” and we couldn't agree more.

Letter to the Editor

SGA president calls for unity, respect in dark time Fellow students, It is with a very heavy heart that I write this note today. As we all know, the Auburn family suffered a tragedy this past weekend, and our student body lost two of our beloved classmates. During the few past days, we have all witnessed the Auburn family respond in an incredible way to these events. We have seen outrage as a result of a senseless tragedy, despair over the loss of great potential and unity as we comfort suffering friends and family members. There are two things that weigh heavily on my mind in regards to our

The Editorial Board Robert E. Lee

John Holtrop

EDITOR

SPORTS EDITOR

Melody Kitchens

Rachel Suhs

MANAGING EDITOR

DESIGN EDITOR

Andrew Yawn

Danielle Lowe

NEWS EDITOR

PHOTO EDITOR

TJ Harlin

Anna Claire Conrad

CAMPUS EDITOR

response. Firstly, I know that in order to properly commemorate and celebrate the lives of our classmates, we must fully unite as the Auburn community. We do not only mourn the loss of two football players, or two student-athletes, but of two members of our family and two of our friends. This situation forces us to transcend any barriers, jointly remembering Edward Christian, Ladarious Phillips, the lives they led and the legacy they leave behind. It is my hope that as Auburn students we remember not the chase of the killer, but remember the men who were killed. With Facebook,

COPY EDITOR

Nathan Simone ONLINE EDITOR

Ben Croomes ONLINE EDITOR

Twitter and televised breaking news footage, it is too easy to be entertained by the pursuit of justice and forget why justice is needed. Three of our family members were hatefully shot, taking two of them away from us. I ask that we respect the victims, the families, those who were involved, and our university by focusing on who is lost and the hearts that are broken instead of a manhunt. In closing, I pray for the unity of the Auburn family; for a sense of understanding after this horrible event, if one can be attained; for comfort for all of us who mourn; strength for all of us who struggle; and for the cour-

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Community Thursday, June 14, 2012

5

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Community

ANDREW YAWN / COMMUNITY EDITOR

Police continued to stand watch the day after the shooting at the University Heights apartment complex on West Longleaf Avenue.

The “height” of violence Saturday night’s shooting was the second violent assault by a gunman at the University Heights apartment complex in three months

Nathan Simone ONLINE EDITOR

The June 9 shooting incident was not the first at University Heights. According to reports by the Opelika-Auburn News and WTVM, on April 13, 2012, around 5:30 a.m. an Auburn Police narcotics unit and members of a county-wide tactical team served a drug search warrant for an apartment in the complex and were shot at by a man with an assault style rifle. After arriving at the apartment and identifying themselves as police, officers forced entry into the residence and approached a locked bedroom door. In their attempts to breach the door, the suspect inside fired at the officers who then returned fire. After the officers returned fire, the shooter surrendered. The shooter was later identified as Ivan L. Slavich IV, 21, of Auburn. During the search officers seized a pound of marijuana, $4,200 in cash and two assault style rifles. Slavich was arrested that day and charged with first-degree possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. Also arrested were Joshua C. Pulley, 20, who was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia; Malcolm T. Robinson, 22, who was charged with second-degree possession of marijuana and

possession of drug paraphernalia; and Keith R. Brown Jr. 21, who was charged with first-degree possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. All four men listed an Auburn address, but Pulley, Robinson and Brown identified themselves as Tuskegee University students. Recently, residents have spoken out about the apparent decreasing safety of the complex. Angel Garrison, junior in anthropology, is not pleased with the way University Heights has maintained its facilities since she moved in last year. “My view of the complex definitely changed a little after the shooting, but my view had been changing since I moved in,” Garrison said. “Not only has University Heights gotten significantly dirtier and just kind of sad, but I’ve seen multiple arrests at my apartment building and those surrounding it.” For Garrison, this violence has impacted her way of life in the complex. “I didn’t hang out outside of my apartment much before the shooting, but I’ve definitely stayed inside more since that happened,” Garrison said. The shooting in April occurred at the apartment diagonally behind Garrison’s, and Garrison said she believes that the relation to drugs is no coincidence.

“Honestly, yes, the complex is known to have a lot of drug problems, but I wasn’t aware of the violence until April,” Garrison said. “If I mention University Heights to anyone, nine times out of ten someone mentions its increasing drug problem or that it’s turned into the ‘ghetto’.” Garrison also said even within the complex, certain areas are off-limits if residents want to stay safe. “My roommates and I don’t even like going to the computer lab alone to print because of the sketchy people that hang around the building and pool.” Garrison said. Garrison said that she will be vacating the complex as soon as her lease is up on July 31. “The recent violence that has been plaguing University Heights has just helped me ensure myself that I made a good decision to move.” Garrison said. Richard Trammell, junior in theatre, was never given details on what happened that day. In the wake of the recent shooting on June 9, he wonders why residents were never given any answers. “This is the second shooting we’ve had this year,” Trammell said. “They didn’t give any details of that shooting. We don’t really know what happened.” University Heights declined to comment on the incident.

Former Auburn athletes start relief fund for victims’ families Rebecca Moseley CAMPUS BEAT REPORTER

Orange Navy is a student pride organization that began in early 2011 with a mission of bringing awareness to the Auburn community by providing financial assistance to students through scholarship. The idea was formulated during Auburn’s 2010 national championship season with the musical venture of Francis Aihe, an Auburn graduate in public administration and former basketball player. While experimenting to remix Wiz Khalifa’s “Black and Yellow” in 2011, Aihe collaborated with former Auburn football player and Chicago Bears offensive tackle AJ Greene to produce a beat for a song that would become known as “Orange Navy Anthem.” “What started out as a song quickly evolved into a lifestyle reflected through colors that gave Auburn an identity as a whole,” Aihe said. The organization hopes to provide students with another option of getting involved by showing school spirit and establishing a long-lasting tradition that will separate Auburn from other universities. Speaking with Director of Athletics Jay Jacobs, faculty members of the Auburn Athletics Department, and the University’s marketing department were the first steps toward ensuring the University’s support of the organization’s fundraising activities. The murder of three Auburn students at an off-campus event have hit home for the Orange Navy staff and have inspired a new direction for the organization’s fundraising efforts. Aihe learned of Saturday night’s shooting through Greene the following morning while on vacation with friend and former Auburn rack athlete, Johnathon Haynes. Haynes, senior in industrial design, created the website and tee shirt designs for Orange Navy. On his way back to Auburn, Aihe recalled a common belief that he and Haynes share with each other: there is always something you can do to make a difference.

“I began praying on what God wanted me to do in this situation because it is in my heart to help people,” Aihe said. “He put it in my heart to start a fund to help the families pay for the funeral expenses of my friends who lost their lives.” All proceeds of the fundraiser will go to the families of Ed Christian and Ladarious Phillips to cover funeral expenses and relieve the families of any other financial burdens during this time. “I feel great knowing that we are able to help shed some light during these rough times,” Haynes said. “Orange Navy allows us to come together as one voice that represents the University and to show these families how much their lives meant to us as friends and as being apart of the Auburn family.” A PayPal link has been created for the cause, making donations easy for those wishing to help the grieving families. The link can be found on the organization’s twitter account, TeamOrangeNavy and also through several posts on Facebook. Jenna Malphrus, senior in public relations, is responsible for Orange Navy’s media relations. “I am personally humbled to not only be apart of Orange Navy, but also a part of this gracious donation effort,” said Malphrus, who also knew Christian and Phillips personally. “Every person that donates is blessing those families more than they can comprehend,” Malphrus said. The Auburn Family Relief Fund is only a stepping stone for what Orange Navy hopes to achieve in the future regarding this tragedy. Plans are in the works toward creating a scholarship in the memory of Ed Christian. Christian became an inspiration for the idea through his continued dedication to his education and the Auburn spirit even after his football career was cut short due to back problems. Timber Mosley, a student at Arkansas State University, is also a contributor to Orange Navy planning and development who knew Christian well. On Tuesday, June 12, Mosley spoke with the victim’s parents,

REBECCA MOSELEY / CAMPUS BEAT REPORTER

Francis Aihe said it’s in his heart to help people.

Ansonya and Ed Christian Sr., who received the plans well. “(Christian’s) mom and dad loved the idea that through him, someone else will have the opportunity to accomplish the same dream of graduating from Auburn University,” Mosley said. Upon approval, this student financial aid will be known as the Ed Christian Scholarship and will be made available to students of the high school that Christian attended, Lowndes High School of Valdosta, Georgia, in hopes of keeping his memory alive. The organization also hopes to establish an Orange Navy Scholarship Foundation.


Community 6

The Auburn Plainsman

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Phones stay silent as AU is alert Anna Claire Conrad COPY EDITOR

The events that unfolded Saturday at University Heights on West Longleaf Drive were shocking, confusing and heartbreaking. The University community received alarming information and frequent updates from several news organizations, Twitter, Facebook and televised news broadcasts. However, there was one source that surprisingly didn’t make contact with the community. Auburn’s new emergency communications system known as AU ALERT al-

lows students, faculty and staff to receive time-sensitive messages in the form of email, voice and text messages whenever the University is threatened. However, an AU ALERT was not sent out after the tragic shooting that resulted in the deaths of two Auburn students and one resident. Auburn University Threat Assessment Team leader Chance Corbett said his department was assured by the Auburn Police Department that there was no viable threat, which is why an AU ALERT was not sent out. “The Auburn Police De-

partment are the police service for the campus, and responded to the scene of the crime when they received the call,” Corbett said. “It notified us of the students that were involved in the incident and assured us that the campus was not threatened.” Corbett said the police also said the incident would not necessitate an AU ALERT. Corbett also said an AU ALERT is reserved to notify students, faculty and staff during an event that requires emergency action, such as a lock-down or need to take shelter. “If the suspect was thought

to be on campus, or if the police chief had said there was still a threat to the students or to anyone of the campus, we would have definitely sent out an AU ALERT,” Corbett said. Jaclyn Wilson, senior in marine biology, said at first she was surprised that she didn’t receive an AU ALERT, but in retrospect, she understands why that decision was made. “I’m at Dauphin Island this summer taking classes and conducting research,” Wilson said. “I didn’t hear about the shooting right when it happened, and, being so far from

it all, it would have been nice to get an AU ALERT message; but since it didn’t happen on campus, it makes sense that an AU ALERT wasn’t sent out.” Corbett said Campus Services does not and will not hesitate to alert the University community of threatening events that meet those criteria. “I am deeply sorry for the lives lost and those affected by the events that took place at University Heights over the weekend,” Corbett said. “Campus Security and everyone at the University are devastated, and had this event taken place on campus, an AU

ALERT would have been distributed.” Jade Dwelley, junior in psychology and current tenant at University Heights, said she trusts AU ALERT to notify her of any threats that happen on campus. “Even though the messages are sometimes delayed, AU ALERT has always followed through during an emergency,” Dwelley said. “What happened was absolutely horrible. This kind of thing just doesn’t happen at Auburn, and I know if anything had happened on campus, we would have known about it.”

Looking ahead to Lee County’s Updyke trial John Holtrop SPORTS EDITOR

PLAINSMAN ARCHIVES

Updyke is charged with poison ing the Toomer’s trees after the 2010 Iron Bowl.

The Harvey Updyke Jr. trial is set to begin June 19 or 20 for the poisoning of Toomer’s Corner oak trees. The trial will be held at the Lee County Justice Center. The original trial date was delayed on week, but a compromise was met between the two sides. Two weeks ago, the defense requested for more time to consult with independent experts. The prosecution utilized the time to complete the deposition of a key witness who will not be available on June 18, due to a scheduling conflict. The witness is a Mississippi State University analyst who examined tree samples for signs of poisoning. Updyke, who was not in court two weeks ago, is charged with felony criminal mischief, misdemeanor desecration of a venerated object, felony unlawful damage and vandalism or theft of proper-

ty from a farm animal or crop facility. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges. On Jan. 27, 2011, “Al” from Dadeville called the Paul Finebaum sports talk radio show ad-

HARVEY UPDYKE

mitting to poisoning the live oak trees with a powerful herbicide, Spike 80DF, after the 2010 Iron Bowl game. In that game, Auburn came back from a 24-point deficit to win the game, and two games later, the national championship. Authorities tracked down and arrested Updyke in February 2011.

CHICKEN PARMESAN

He called Finebaum’s show throughout 2011 pledging allegiance to the University of Alabama and apologized to Auburn without regret for his actions. The trial has been rescheduled multiple times since his arrest, most recently in April 2012. The defense asked Judge Jacob A. Walker to recuse himself, as they believed he could be impartial on the case since he is in a group that purchases Auburn football season tickets. Walker denied the claims and will hear the testimony next week. In April 2012, the University reported the chance of survival is very slim. Still, a task force made up of university horticulturists, landscapers, agronomists, engineers, chemists and others has undertaken a series of steps to give the trees a fighting chance, including the replacement of the contaminated soil and application of activated charcoal to the roots.

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Sports Thursday, June 14, 2012

7 www.theplainsman.com

Sports

Justice served, but damage done in Auburn shooting John Holtrop SPORTS@ THEPLAINSMAN.COM

Where does one begin when trying to make sense of the events that started Saturday evening at University Heights and ended Tuesday at the Auburn Police Department? There was a fight that turned into a murder scene. That turned into a flood of skepticism of what happened and who was injured. Followed was a wild goose chase that led authorities across central Alabama. Then authorities chased ghosts and rodents around a Southeast Montgomery attic, leaving everyone from Bama fans to Auburn loyalists sitting at the edge of their seats waiting for answers. A slew of empty responses that held no weight came that next morning. Less than twelve hours later justice

was served. “I know you young men won’t be coming home tonight, but I hope this arrest brings you some closure,” said Auburn Police Chief Tommy Dawson at Tuesday’s press conference announcing Desmonte Leonard’s arrest. For the Auburn students and residents I can confidentially say that it does. But his first statement resonates, three young men won’t be going home to their mothers tonight. They won’t be returning home to their girlfriends, children, teammates and friends. The question that keeps repeating itself is, why? Why did Desmonte Leonard feel as if the barrel of a smoking gun was the answer to a quarrel? It is a question that will most likely never be answered, but will continually repeat itself throughout time in many situations that end up in similar fashion. So our only move here is to mourn

and remember the lives lost in that tragic and unnecessary shooting. Ladarious Phillips, Ed Christian and Damario Pitts lost their lives before their time to go. This is a learning experience for students and young people alike. Auburn is a safe place, but that doesn’t mean that it is lacking unsafe situations. At parties and gatherings everywhere there is at least one wild card that will not hesitate to cross the line and make an unforgivable mistake. If I may, I would like to get on my soapbox now and say a few words to the supporters of “Woosie Woo” throughout Sunday’s reaction and Monday’s standoff. Stop. For some reason the underlying message and conclusion to Leonard’s actions went straight over the heads of some people as the most hurtful, ignorant and insensitive remarks were said on Twitter and Facebook.

Apparently @desleonard chimed in on the debate from the attic of a Montgomery house where he was allegedly holed up. Three, possibly four lives have been lost in Leonard’s fit of rage. For some reason there were hoards of friends and family praying for his safe escape. They condemned the police, they took shots at those looking for justice and even spared no time voicing their opinion of “dem white people.” There is no room in society for people like Desmonte Leonard and his band of thieves that had his back till the end. Moving to the other end of the spectrum let’s give it up for the students, student athletes and family that yearned for justice into the wee hours of Atticgate. This is the Auburn Family that is so often mentioned around this fine institution. Looking at the graphic above tells a story that never should have been told, but in the darkest of times these

people came together and created a support system that pierced the heart deeper than the bullets that were fired on Saturday night. Head coach Gene Chizik said it best when he was asked about how the incident would affect the upcoming football season. “I am not worried about football,” Chizik said. “I don’t care about football. This is not about football season. This meeting is about young guys trying to get past a very tragic thing.” That may hurt a lot of fans itching for August to come around, but he could not have said it better. This is about life. This is about death. This is about a community coming together in a time when it is needed most. Sleep well tonight knowing that a dangerous man is behind bars. But never let your guard down and always think before you or others make a mistake that cannot be reversed, because in the end it is the decisions we make that define us as human beings.

A week of Auburn sports Baseball: 2012 MLB First-Year Player Draft: Senior RHP Derek Varnadore drafted in

9th round by New York Yankees. Sophomore center fielder Ryan Tella drafted in 11th round by San Francisco Giants. Junior RHP Slade Smith drafted in 17th round by Detroit Tigers. Senior second baseman Creede Simpson drafted in 25th round by Baltimore Orioles.

Football: An ESPN poll of nearly 10,000 fans chose Cam Newton’s 2010 season as

the greatest individual performance by an SEC football player in the last 50 years. Desmonte Leonard, suspect in shooting of former football players Ladarious Phillips and Ed Christian and current player Eric Mack turned himself in Tuesday to Montgomery police.

Men’s Golf: Former Auburn golfer Lee Williams captured his first Nationwide Tour victory on Sunday at the Mexico Open. Former Auburn golfer Jason Dufner to compete in the U.S. Open, June 14-17 at the Olympic Club in San Francisco.

Men’s Swimming & Diving: Junior swimmer Kyle Owens named Capital One All-American.

Men’s Tennis: Junior Andreas Mies and senior Alex Stamchev named to the 2012 Intercollegiate Tennis Association All-America Team.

Women’s Golf: Freshmen Victoria Trapani and Nicole Quinn qualified for the U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship.

Track & Field: The men finished in sixth place overall at the 2012 NCAA Out-

doors Championship hosted by Drake University with a total of 30 points. The women finished in 24th place overall at the 2012 NCAA Outdoors Championship. Auburn track and field received 21 All-American honors as announced by the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association on Tuesday.

COURTESY OF TODD VAN EMST

(Top) Auburn’s Harry Adams and Marcus Rowland begin the 100 meter dash. (Bottom) Auburn’s Kai Selvon runs the 200 meter final finishing 2nd Saturday at the NCCA Outdoor Track & Field Championships.


Behind the suspects Profiling the pasts of the alleged suspects in Saturday’s shooting February 2008

April 2012

Leonard arrested for theft and carrying a pistol without a permit.

Jeremy Thomas

Thomas arrested for murder and charged for manslaughter.

Saturday June 9, 2012 Leonard charged for shooting six people and killing three.

Desmonte Leonard

2009

Gabriel Thomas

Leonard charged with second-degree assault. Leonard was also involved in several child support cases.

Monday June 11, 2012 Jeremy Thomas and Gabriel Thomas were both arrested for first-degree hindering prosecution.

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6.14.12 edition of the Auburn Plainsman  

6.14.12 edition of the Auburn Plainsman

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