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Friday, July 19, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Suspect Arrested in Auburn Player’s Death

(CN) - A suspect was arrested on Sunday in the shooting death of Auburn University football player Jakell Mitchell, just hours after the early-morning incident occurred.

According to a statement from the Auburn (Ala.) Police Division, Markale Hart, 22, of Camp Hill, Ala., was arrested and charged with murder in the death of the redshirt freshman.

Mitchell, 18, was shot early Sunday morning at an apartment complex in Auburn. The Auburn police said officers responded to a report of a shooting at approximately 12:25 a.m.

When they arrived at the scene, they stopped a vehicle leaving the area and discovered Mitchell,

who was a passenger in the vehicle, "suffering from apparent gunshot wounds. He was subsequently transported to EAMC by ambulance, and later pronounced dead."

According to the police, the suspected shooter, Hart, was taken to the Lee County jail on Sunday. His bond will be set at $150,000. No other arrests are expected.

Mitchell, who was from nearby Opelika, Ala., was projected to compete for the Tigers' starting H-back position next year.

As a high school athlete at Opelika High School, Mitchell was a highly-coveted college prospect. Despite missing his senior season with a knee injury, he was still rated the No. 17 tight end in the nation according to recruiting website 247sports.com.

Following the shooting on Sunday, Auburn Head Coach Gus Malzahn issued a statement: "I'm devastated and saddened by the passing of Jakell Mitchell. 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."

Auburn Athletic Director Jay Jacobs also issued a statement on Sunday, acknowledging the emotional impact of the shooting: "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."

The apartment complex where the shooting occurred was reportedly the same site of another fatal shooting in 2012. In that incident, two former Auburn players, Ed Christian and Ladarious Phillips, were shot and killed during a pool party. In October, Desmonte Leonard was convicted of capital murder for their deaths.

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