Vigil held for Jakell Mitchell at Lee County Courthouse
(Source: WSFA 12)
(Source: WSFA 12)
Jakell Mitchell (Source: Auburn247Sports.com)
Markale Hart (Source: Auburn Police Department)
Scene of the shooting (Source: WSFA 12 News)
AUBURN, AL (WSFA) -
At least 300 people showed up on Monday to a vigil near the Lee County Courthouse in downtown Opelika to remember the life of 18-year-old Jakell Lenard Mitchell.
Jakell's father, Mario Mitchell, was present at the vigil, and talked about the difficulty of the situation surrounding his son's murder.
"Now I can only imagine what if," Mario said. "I can only imagine, you know? What if four more more years. What if when he told me 'I'm about to step out a little bit dad' what if I would have said 'Just chill tonight.'"
Mario said that he has been surprised at the tremendous amount of support he has received in the past few days.
"I had no idea it would go that far. you know, people say 'you hadn't seen ESPN, you hadn't seen CNN?' I didn't see any of that. I was tending to my family, not even knowing that it would reach so many people. I see C.J Mosley [writing a tribute] on his shoe, all the Alabama Quarterbacks from the last four or five years [saying] 'Hey, Rest in Peace Jakell'. I never would have imagined."
Mitchell's funeral will take place on Saturday at Greater Peace Baptist Church. The family has not specified whether the service will be open to the public, according to Harris Funeral Home.
Mitchell was shot and killed at an apartment complex on Long Leaf Drive over the weekend. The alleged suspect, 22-year-old Markale Hart, was arrested and charged with murder on Sunday.
Hart appeared in court on Monday, and an affidavit from the hearing sheds some new light on the case.
According to the court affidavit, witnesses say that Hart shot and killed Mitchell after Mitchell became involved in an altercation with an associate of Hart's. Hart then fled the scene prior to the police arriving.
Investigators say a gun has been recovered that may have been involved in the shooting, but they are waiting to see if the weapon matches the shell casings found at the scene.
When police arrived to the scene, they found Mitchell in a vehicle suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. He was transported to East Alabama Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.
Hart, a native of Camp Hill, AL, was arrested and charged with murder on Sunday after police developed him as a suspect in the shooting. Hart's bond was originally set at $150,000 but a judge has now modified it and increased it to $500,000.
Mitchell's body has been taken to the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences medical examiner's office in Montgomery for a postmortem examination.
"From our understanding, there was a disagreement between several individuals and it just escalated from there into the tragic event that happened," said Auburn Police Chief Paul Register. "As far as the specific details, we wouldn't get into that at this point but it was an altercation that escalated into gun fire."
According to the Lee County Coroner's office, Auburn Police and EAMC EMS received the 911 call early Sunday morning at about 12:28 a.m. to a possible gunshot victim. The incident occurred at a residence in the 200 block of West Longleaf Drive in Auburn. This is the same apartment complex where Desmonte Leonard shot and killed three men in 2012, among them, two former AU football players.
"People were like yelling and screaming and running, so I was like what's going on?" said Tiger Lodge resident Vikas Yaday. "And then I heard the sound bam bam bam bam, like 8 or 10 times."
According to other court documents, Hart has had previous problems with the law. Since 2010, Hart has been charged with first degree burglary, first degree theft of property and first degree possession of marijuana. Court documents show that Hart has entered a guilty plea for burglary and possession of marijuana charges.
Mitchell was a tight end at Auburn and a former Opelika High School football stand out. He was redshirted this year for the Tigers but was expected to contend for a starting spot next season. Mitchell missed his senior season at Opelika recovering from an ACL injury. He rushed for 392 yards and 17 touchdowns as a junior at Opelika in 2013.
Auburn Police, Lee County Coroner's Office, and the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences are conducting the investigation. No one else was injured in the incident.
Auburn University released a statement, saying: "Our thoughts and prayers go out to Jakell's family and many friends. Auburn offers support services, and we encourage those in need to contact the Division of Student Affairs."
Here are statements from Auburn Head Coach Gus Malzahn and Director of Athletics Jay Jacobs:
“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.”
“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 Tiger Lodge at Auburn apartment complex released the following statement on their Facebook page on Sunday:
A shooting occurred early this morning at our community. The Auburn Police Department and our onsite security officer responded to the incident. That shooting resulted in the death of Jakell Mitchell. We are cooperating fully with police as they investigate this matter.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to Jakell Mitchell's family, friends and the entire Auburn University community. When tragedies such as this occur, everyone is affected, and we all mourn his loss.
Your well being is of utmost importance to us. A courtesy officer lives onsite and is available to you 24/7. We also have a security officer onsite in the evenings.
If you have any questions regarding this morning's incident, we encourage you to call or stop by the front office. This is an ongoing police investigation, but we will be monitoring the situation and do our best to keep you updated.
Many current and former college football players, from both Auburn and Alabama, also took to Twitter on Sunday to give their condolences.
Auburn freshman safety Markell Boston tweeted:
R.I.P. to my fallen brother/teammate. I promise we gone see better days.
Alabama running back Kenyan Drake tweeted:
R.I.P. Jakell Mitchell
Former Alabama running back Mark Ingram tweeted:
Prayers go out to Jakell Mitchell, his family and all of Auburn for this tragic loss! May God be with all affected by this!