MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Authorities searching for a man charged with fatally shooting three people near Auburn University swarmed a house Monday where they believe he’s hiding, firing tear gas and sending a tactical team on cautious forays inside.
The tactical team had searched the lower portions of the house and was making deliberate moves into the attic where suspect Desmonte Leonard was believed to be hiding, said Montgomery Public Safety Director Chris Murphy. He declined to give a timetable for them to bring someone out.
“We are having to slowly put our people up there and do an inch-by-inch search,” he said during a briefing several hours after police surrounded the house.
Police had hoped to flush out the person with tear gas and verbal commands, but sent in the tactical team after getting no response. They’ve used thermal imaging and other technology to narrow down what part of the attic he’s in. The attic is cramped, complicating investigators’ efforts.
“This is a pretty driven person. He’s got nothing to lose,” Murphy said. “You cannot rush it.”
Murphy said investigators believe he’s likely covered in insulation and suffering from the tear gas.
“He’s got to be in a lot of pain,” he said.
Dozens of police cruisers, trucks, fire vehicles and vans surrounded the house, located in a middle-class area a few miles from Alabama’s Capitol.
Authorities said Leonard was charged with three counts of capital murder in the shooting Saturday night during a pool party at University Heights apartments. He’s also accused of wounding three others.
The dead included two former Auburn football players.