4 dead, 28 injured in Alabama birthday party shooting

Published: Apr. 16, 2023 at 8:21 AM CDT|Updated: Apr. 16, 2023 at 5:30 PM CDT
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DADEVILLE, Ala. (WSFA/Gray News) - A 16th birthday party celebration in Alabama ended in horror as gunfire ripped through a crowd of mostly teens, killing four and injuring 28 others, WSFA reports.

The shooting happened around 10:30 p.m. Saturday at a birthday party near the 200 block of Broadnax Street in Dadeville, said Sgt. Jeremy Burkett of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency. Police responded to Mahogany Masterpiece, a local dance studio.

“There were four lives tragically lost in this incident, and there’s been a multitude of injuries,” said Burkett during a news conference Sunday morning.

Dadeville Chief Jonathan L. Floyd paused to regain his composure before speaking at the news conference.

“What we’ve dealt with is something that no community should have to endure. I just ask for your patience. It’s going to be a long process, but I do earnestly solicit your prayers,” Floyd said.

A suspect and motive was still unclear more than a day after the shooting, though Burkett did state that there was no risk to the public. Investigators have held two news conferences but declined to take any questions from the media.

“This is going to be a long, complicated process,” Burkett said.

He added that a methodical investigation will be conducted.

According to Ivy Creek Healthcare, which oversees the Lake Martin Community Hospital, a total of 15 teenage patients were treated at the facility. Six of those patients were later discharged. Nine were transferred to other hospitals, four in stable condition and five in critical condition.

The Associated Press reported that Dadeville First Baptist Church Pastor Ben Hayes, who also serves as the chaplain for the Dadeville Police Department and for the local high school football team, said most of the victims are teenagers because the shooting occurred at a birthday party for a 16-year-old. He said the shooting has rocked the small town where serious crime is rare.

“One of the young men that was killed was one of our star athletes and just a great guy. So I knew many of these students,” Hayes told the Associated Press.

WSFA has learned the name of one of the shooting victims, Philstavious Dowdell. Dowdell was a star high school athlete who had recently committed to Jacksonville State to further his athletic career.

Jacksonville State Head Coach released a statement in a tweet, saying, “Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Philstavious Dowdell and the other victims of the senseless tragedy last night. He was a gray young man with a bright future. My staff and I are heartbroken and hope that everyone will support his family through this difficult time.”

President Joe Biden has been briefed on the shooting, the White House said, adding that it is closely monitoring the situation and has been in touch with local officials and law enforcement to offer support.

“This morning, I grieve with the people of Dadeville and my fellow Alabamians. Violent crime has NO place in our state, and we are staying closely updated by law enforcement as details emerge,” said Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said in a statement posted on social media.

The Tallapoosa County school system said counseling will be available for students at the schools Monday, according to the school superintendent, Raymond C. Porter.

Hundreds attended a community prayer vigil Sunday evening, called by First Baptist Church of Dadeville.