AUBURN - When Auburn Police Chief Tommy Dawson stood to talk Tuesday night, it had been just short of 72 hours since the horrific shootings that took three lives and stunned this community.
Murder suspect Desmonte Leonard in Montgomery County Jail mugshot from Tuesday night.
Dawson finally could make the announcement he'd wanted to make since shortly after the first call came in on Saturday night. Accused perpetrator Desmonte Leonard had turned himself in his hometown of Montgomery.
"At approximately 7:57, Desmonte Leonard turned himself in to U.S. Marshal Art Baylor, along with Special (FBI) Agent Kelvin King," Dawson said.
And it was done.
Leonard is charged with three counts of capital murder and two counts of first degree assault. Dawson said an additional assault charge will be fired later.
When a calm gathering suddenly turned violent Saturday night at University Heights Apartments in Auburn, former Auburn football players Ed Christian and Ladarious Phillips were killed. Current Auburn player Eric Mack was wounded and spent the night at East Alabama Medical Center. John Robertson remains hospitalized at UAB Medical Center. Xavier Martin was treated and released at EAMC.
"I want to speak to the families of our victims tonight," Dawson said. "Once again, I'm sorry for what happened. You continue to be in our prayers and our thoughts. You will always be in our prayers and thoughts."
Numerous law enforcement agencies mobilized after the shootings Saturday night. Dozens of officers converged on a East Montgomery home where Leonard was thought to be hiding, but they came up empty. Less than 24 hours late, he'd hired Montgomery lawyer Susan James and turned himself in.
Dawson said Leonard will return to Lee County either Wednesday or Friday for his first court appearance. He will eventually be moved to the Lee County Jail.
"It's just a relief that we have him in custody and can wrap up the loose ends and proceed," Dawson said. "In a case like this, there is no relief because those boys aren't coming home tonight. At the same time, Mr. Leonard has a mama. I'm sure she's grieving as well. In a sense, she's lost a son. He shouldn't have done what he did, but everybody has a mama. The people that suffer the most are the families of the victims."