I woke up Sunday morning to learn Ladarious Phillips, Ed Christian and Demario Pitts were killed in a shooting at an apartment complex in Auburn. I don’t know these men, but my heart broke as I read the news online. Auburn is a second home for me, so when the community hurts, I hurt. Saturday night, three young men lost their lives because one man made a horrible choice. According to police, Desmonte Leonard chose to pull out a gun in the midst of a pool party and fire it multiple times. Three were killed and two were wounded. One of them, John Robertson, continues to fight for his life. Police are looking for Leonard, whom they believe to be the shooter. Anyone with information regarding his whereabouts is asked to call 334-223-5400.
Part of my heart will always belong to Auburn for reasons hard to define unless you’ve experienced the community for yourself. It is where my family lives, many whom I’ve never met and never will. But they are my family nonetheless. It’s a community without much tragedy where we say hello to strangers and welcome outsiders with smiles and a “War Eagle” greeting. When something bad happens, we stand together because we are family. The university is the core, but the town as a whole is a family. It is a small community, but its heart is big.
“…I believe in obedience to law because it protects the rights of all. I believe in the human touch, which cultivates sympathy with my fellow men and mutual helpfulness and brings happiness for all…” -from the Auburn Creed
I often write about diabetes on this site, but for the past year or so, I’ve also written about my faith. What happened in Auburn Saturday night is the very reason why I share my heart for God. No one is promised tomorrow. No one knows when life will end and eternity will begin. No one knows when a swimming party is going to turn into a tragic shooting. It can happen in Auburn. It can happen in Tuscaloosa. It can happen anywhere. That’s why we are called as Christians to share God’s love with others. It’s why we must tell people about Christ’s death. It’s why He died on a cross — for us to have life beyond this earth.
God promises you an incredible future beyond anything you can imagine. Don’t miss the opportunity. Don’t miss the chance for salvation that comes from knowing Him. Don’t miss the amazing life laid out for you with Jesus as the leader. I know about the hope and peace He offers, and I pray the same for you. I pray with all of my heart that Ladarious Phillps, Ed Christian and Demario Pitts were followers of Christ. I pray they each had a personal relationship with Him and that they are rejoicing in this moment with their Creator.
You’re still here. You have an opportunity. Don’t let it pass you by.Dear Heavenly Father, I thank you for sending your Son to earth to save us, knowing we aren’t worthy of that kind of salvation. It’s easy to question the “why” behind things like this accident. It’s easy to place blame and direct hate when someone dies in such a tragic and unnecessary way. Today, I lift up these three families to you. I ask that you wrap Your arms around them and give them peace and comfort as they come to terms with such a great loss. I pray for John that You will place Your healing hand over his life. I pray for Your strength and might to be displayed through the doctors and nurses treating him. I pray for everyone affected by the shooting. I ask for You to blanket Auburn with a peace that only You can provide. It’s my prayer that You show mercy and compassion to those involved. And Lord, I lift up Desmonte as well. Place conviction on his heart to turn himself in. Keep him in safe in the meantime, Lord, protecting him until law enforcement can reach him. Lord, I pray for his family knowing they are hurting, too. I pray that Your presence overwhelm Auburn, calming fears and anxieties. Lord, be in that place. Be in that place. Amen.