Arrest made in shooting and killing of Auburn football player

Arrest made in shooting and killing of Auburn football player
Auburn University campus police investigate a shooting at the Tiger Lodge apartments in Auburn, Ala., early Sunday, where Jakell Mitchell, 18, a redshirt freshman Auburn football player, sustained multiple gunshot wounds and later died at a hospital. (AP Photo / Montgomery Advertiser)

Police say they've arrested a 22-year-old man in the fatal shooting of Auburn University football player Jakell Mitchell.

Auburn Police Capt. Will Matthews issued an agency statement Sunday afternoon that said Markale Deandra Hart of Camp Hill, Alabama, has been arrested on suspicion of murder charges. Police add Hart is being held at a county jail in the state.


It was not immediately known if Hart had an attorney and the statement didn't provide any details of how he was taken into custody. Police also disclosed in the statement that Mitchell, who was shot early Sunday at an off-campus apartment complex, received multiple gunshot wounds to the chest.

The statement says no additional arrests are expected at this time, but didn't elaborate further on the shooting and arrest.

Mitchell was fatally shot at the same apartment complex where two former football players and another man were shot and killed in 2012.

Matthews told the Associated Press that police responded at 12:25 a.m. Sunday to a shots-fired call at the Tiger Lodge apartment complex, where the 18-year-old Mitchell was found. He was taken to a hospital in nearby Opelika, Alabama, where he was pronounced dead.

Matthews said the shooting occurred in the complex's parking lot and that no one else had been shot or hurt.

Auburn Coach Gus Malzahn said he was "devastated and saddened" by Mitchell's death.

"My thoughts and prayers are with Jakell's family and friends, who are suffering through this senseless tragedy. I know the Auburn Family is hurting, especially our players and coaches, and we are going to love and support them through this difficult time. We have lost a member of our family too young, too soon," Malzahn's statement added.

Mitchell redshirted this season for the Auburn Tigers out of nearby Opelika High School. He was expected to contend for a starting spot next season at H-back and tight end.

Mitchell missed his senior season at Opelika as he recovered from an anterior cruciate ligament injury. He rushed for 392 yards and 17 touchdowns in 2013 as a junior.

Drake Ledet, an Auburn sophomore who lives in a building near the complex, said he heard several gunshots shortly after midnight. He said there were two parties being held in the area.

"I'd say it was at least eight (shots)," Ledet said, adding that he looked out his window to see what was going on. "People were screaming … I saw people scattering everywhere, getting in their cars."

Ledet and other residents said there were two parties going on Saturday night at the complex.

Auburn Director of Athletics Jay Jacobs called the shooting a "terrible tragedy" in a statement.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to Jakell Mitchell's family and those who have been impacted by this terrible tragedy. This is a very trying time for those close to Jakell, including the student-athletes, coaches, staff and Auburn Family. We will provide counseling and support and do everything we can to help them through the grieving process," he said.


The shooting happened at the same complex where Desmonte Leonard killed three men at a party in the summer of 2012, according to Jurors convicted Leonard of capital murder in the shooting deaths of former Auburn football players Ed Christian and Ladarious Phillips along with DeMario Pitts.

Leonard is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 20.

"There have been four people killed here. Once again this place is on the national news," said Auburn junior Barrett Kearens.