Auburn freshman dies from gunshot wound

Students mourn the loss of Auburn student Lauren Burk at a vigil Wednesday night. Burk, 18, a freshman in pre-graphic design, died Tuesday. Pete Riley, Auburn Plainsman

Students mourn the loss of Auburn student Lauren Burk at a vigil Wednesday night. Burk, 18, a freshman in pre-graphic design, died Tuesday. Pete Riley, Auburn Plainsman

By Staff Reports

AUBURN, Ala. – Police assured students at Auburn University Thursday afternoon that they were in no immediate danger, but declined to offer information about possible suspects or a timeline leading up to Lauren Burk’s death Tuesday night.

Police responded to a call at 9:08 p.m. and found 18-year-old Burk off of Alabama Highway 147 with a gunshot wound to the head. Burk died later that night at East Alabama Medical Center. Around 20 minutes after finding Burk’s body, Auburn police found her 2001 black Honda Civic engulfed in flames in a parking lot behind the Hill residence halls on campus.

“We encourage everyone who was in the band parking lot or along Highway 147, whether they think they saw anything important or not, to call us at Auburn police,” said Auburn Assistant Chief of Police Tom Dawson.

Dawson confirmed the police have several strong leads they are investigating.

An extended multi-task force has been assembled to further investigate Burk’s murder. The task force included the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Marshal’s Service, Alabama Bureau Investigation, Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences, Alabama State Fire Marshal’s Office, Lee County District Attorney’s Office, Lee County Sheriff’s Office, Opelika Police Department and Auburn University Public Safety and Security Office.

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Dawson denied Burk’s case had any connection to the 2006 disappearance of 24-year-old Lori Slesinski, whose car was also found burning at the dead end of North DeKalb Street.

“(Slesinski) was a missing persons case, whereas Burk’s is a homicide,” Dawson said.

More than 100 students gathered Wednesday to remember Burk.

The students, many of whom were from Delta Gamma and other sororities, came to remember Burk at the location where she was found.

Jay Seyfried, a junior in international business, went to George Walton High School with Lauren and knew her for more than four years.

“It still hasn’t really hit me,” Seyfried said. “It doesn’t seem real. She was one of the biggest sweethearts you would ever meet.”

Seyfried said some of Burk’s friends were making T-shirts and bumper stickers to remember her.

“I am speechless,” Seyfried said. “It completely rocked our world.”

Confusion and shock spread throughout campus quickly as the news circulated Wednesday..

An e-mail was sent to all Auburn students at 12:03 p.m. Wednesday regarding Burk’s death, but some felt the notification should have been sent sooner.

“I was surprised we didn’t get an e-mail earlier,” said Megan Kuenzli, a freshman in elementary education.

This incident has also caused many students to question security around campus and local areas.

“You know to be careful, but you just don’t think about it as much at 9 o’clock when her car was found,” said Danny Klueter, a junior in finance.