Alabama College Student Fatally Shot, Man Confesses

AUBURN, Ala. – An 18-year-old Auburn University freshman was the victim of a deadly shooting March 4. Her body was found along an Alabama highway, 30 minutes before her car burst into flames on the Auburn campus. Police arrested a 23-year-old Smiths, Ala., resident for the murder.

Police received a phone call shortly after 9 p.m. about an injured female on Highway 147. Police said Lauren A. Burk had been shot once when they arrived at the scene. She was taken to East Alabama Medical Center where she was pronounced dead.

Less than a half-hour later, police received a call about a vehicle in the parking lot on the southern part of the campus that was on fire.

The 2001 black Honda Civic was registered to Burk, according to police. The Auburn Fire Division responded and extinguished the fire. There was no one in the vehicle.

Police said Courtney Lockhart confessed to Burk’s murder. Lockhart said he ran into Burk on the Auburn campus and wanted to steal her credit or debit card, or an iPod.

He told police he forced the victim into her car in attempts to steal her belongings. During that time, Lockhart made the victim take off her clothing and tried to engage in sexual activity. He then murdered Burk.

Police said Lockhart then drove the victim’s vehicle back to campus, where he set it on fire.

Lockhart served in the Army in Iraq from August 2004 to July 2005. He was court-martialed, sentenced to confinement and dishonorably discharged in December 2006 for assault, according to military officials.

The suspect has been charged with capital murder during kidnapping, capital murder during robbery and capital murder during attempted rape.

Faculty and students at the university have been urged to use caution on and off the school grounds; however, school officials said the campus was secure. Additionally, the university urged students to sign up for the emergency text message system. For the recent attack, students received an alert message through E-mail on March 5 around noon.

In response to the shooting, school officials have also increased security by extending shuttle bus hours and implementing an escort service for students leaving the library at night.

According to the university’s Web site, Auburn had a fall 2007 enrollment of 24,137 students.

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