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Dr. Saturday

Auburn shooting suspect surrenders, bringing some peace to a distraught community

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After a three-day manhunt, shooting suspect Desmonte Leonard finally turned himself in to authorities Tuesday.

Leonard, 22, was wanted on three counts of capital murder after opening fire on a pool party near the Auburn campus. He killed three people, including two former football players, and injured three more, including a current football player.

Monday evening, police raided a home they believed was harboring Leonard, but turned up empty. However, late Tuesday, Leonard walked up the steps of an Alabama courthouse and turned himself in to a U.S. Marshall waiting inside.

"It's been a trying case for all law enforcement involved," Auburn Police Chief Tommy Dawson said at a news conference announcing the arrest Tuesday night.

Investigators said they believe the pressure of being on the run finally got to Leonard. Defense attorney Susan James said she arranged for his surrender after receiving word from his family that he wanted her help. She had time to talk to Leonard while driving him to the federal courthouse in Montgomery.

"He was very calm, very tired and very ready to get this over with and very respectful," said James. "When the full story is told, it may sound different than the perception now."

Leonard's surrender might finally give the Auburn community some much-needed peace. Auburn coach Gene Chizik said during a press conference Tuesday that his players were hurting over the incident, which was not specifically targeted at members of the football team.

"The whole Auburn community, the whole Auburn family, is devastated in the passing of three young men," Chizik said.

"I've got a team of 120-something-odd players right now that are trying to navigate a lot of questions that aren't answered. We're trying to do that as a coaching staff and I think the Auburn community is trying to do the same thing."

Funerals for the shooting victims are scheduled for Friday and Saturday.

Leonard was being held in a Montgomery jail early Wednesday, but was being moved to Opelika, near the Auburn campus, for his first court appearance, which is scheduled for Wednesday or Thursday.

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