As a bizarre night ended in an East Montgomery subdivision, the whereabouts of murder suspect Desmonte Leonard remained uncertain.
Montgomery mayor Todd Strange
In a real-life drama played out in front of television cameras, dozens of law enforcement officers descended on the house at around 6 p.m. Monday. City and police officials said they had received two solid tips, one from the women who rents the house, that Leonard was inside. He was thought to be hiding in the attic.
By midnight, there was no capture. There was only frustration.
Was he still in the attic of the house? Had he ever been there? Had he somehow escaped? Authorities had no real answer.
Leonard faces three charges of capital murder as the result of a Saturday night shooting in Auburn that took the lives of former Auburn football players Ed Christian and Ladarious Phillips and Auburn resident Demario Pitts. Three others, including Auburn football player Eric Mack, were wounded.
Frustrated Montgomery mayor Todd Strange and public safety director Chris Murphy acknowledged that the best in the business had not located him. A woman who called 911 was being questioned again. Strange warned several times that anyone knowingly false information to police would face felony charges.
Montgomery and Auburn police, Alabama State Troopers, the FBI, the Montgomery County Sheriff's Department were joined by the U.S. Marshal Service's elite fugitive task force. All were convinced that high-tech imaging equipment and sounds they heard indicated someone was, in fact, in the attic.
Tear gas was twice introduced into the attic. The smoke could clearly be seen, but if Leonard was there, he didn't budge.
The Marshals went into the attic late Monday night. But as of 1 a.m., they had not made any contact and were considering leaving guards around the house and starting again on Tuesday.
Strange reiterated in his final press briefing that the Marshal's Service continued to believe someone is in the attic of the house.
Christina Chambers, a reporter for NBC 38 in Columbus, Ga., tweeted "A very reliable source tells me no one is in the house. Obviously nothing confirmed."
Murphy insisted all signs said someone was hiding in the house.
"I've seen people hide in places you could not imagine," Murphy said. "We've had a number of pieces of high tech equipment, human indicators, informants and eyewitnesses. All the signs are there."
Meanwhile, in Auburn, there was frustration. Grieving football players and coaches, along with students and townspeople, remained shocked by the events of the weekend. And the alleged perpetrator remained at-large.
Earlier Monday, two "persons of interest" were arrested. Jeremy Thomas, 18, and Gabriel Tomas, 41,were charged with hindering prosecution.
Auburn police chief Tommy Dawson went to Montgomery on Monday night. Had Leonard been apprehended, he would have been returned to Auburn.