June 12, 2012 / 3:27 AM / 8 years ago

Police storm home in hunt for Alabama shooting suspect

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama (Reuters) - Police stormed a house in Montgomery, Alabama, on Monday night where a suspect in shootings in the university town of Auburn that killed three men and wounded three others was believed to be barricaded in the attic, local media reported.

Desmonte Leonard in an undated photo. REUTERS/Auburn Police Division

Members of police SWAT team heard a person inside the house coughing after they fired two tear-gas cartridges, the Montgomery Advertiser newspaper reported.

Police, assisted by the FBI and U.S. marshals, have been searching for 22-year-old Desmonte Leonard since they said he fled from an apartment near the Auburn University campus Saturday night after six people were shot when an argument at a pool party escalated into gunfire.

Three people, including two former Auburn football players, died from their wounds and three others were wounded, one critically.

Police earlier arrested two men, Gabriel Thomas, 41, and Jeremy Thomas, 18, on suspicion of hindering prosecution. Police in Montgomery, where they were arrested, said they had yet to determine if the two men are related.

Gabriel Thomas, of Montgomery, was arrested late on Sunday and charged with providing false information to law enforcement officers searching for Leonard, police said. He was being held on $15,000 bail. He was charged after investigators determined he had contact with Leonard and provided misleading information, police said.

Auburn police on Monday arrested Jeremy Thomas, also of Montgomery, on a warrant charging him with the same offense.

Police said Leonard fled the shooting scene with two other “persons of interest,” later identifying one of them as Jeremy Thomas. It was unclear if Gabriel Thomas was also at the party.

Two of those shot to death, Edward Christian and Ladarious Phillips, both 20, were former members of the powerhouse Auburn football team, which won the national championship following the 2010 season. The third person killed was Demario Pitts, 20.

Current Auburn football player Eric Mack was released from a hospital on Sunday following treatment for a gunshot wound to his hip. He is considered a potential starter on the offensive line for the coming season.

One other victim, 20-year-old John Robertson, remained hospitalized and police said he was “clinging to life” with a gunshot wound to the head. The third wounded man was treated and released after the shootings.

Editing by Daniel Trotta, Will Dunham and Lisa Shumaker

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