Victims identified as police are still searching for the shooter’s motive
DADEVILLE, Ala. – Investigators on Monday were urgently seeking details from anyone who knew what led to a deadly weekend shooting that turned a sweet 16 party into a scene of horror.
At a girl’s birthday party, four people were killed and 28 others were injured, some seriously, the authorities said. Many of the victims were reportedly teenagers.
“We need information from the community,” said Sgt. of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency. Jeremy Burkett said at one of two news conferences held Sunday in Dadeville, a town of 3,200 people about 57 miles northeast of Montgomery where grieving parishioners say crimes are rare. Burkett did not say whether a suspect is in custody, but he did urge witnesses to come forward.
Saturday night’s shooting in Dadeville marks the 160th mass shooting in the United States in 2023, according to the nonprofit Archive gun violence.
Here’s what we know:
What happened in the Alabama shooting?
Filming began just after 10:30 p.m. Saturday at the Mahogany Masterpiece dance studio, the site of the former Bank of Dadeville, investigators said.
The party’s DJ, Keenan Cooper, told WBMA-TV that attendees heard someone had a gun and the Sweet 16 party was briefly interrupted.
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Although anyone with guns was told to leave the party, no one left, he said. The shots erupted some time later, Cooper recalled, sending people scattering to seek shelter under tables or outside for safety.
Authorities have not released any information about what led to the shooting as of Monday.
Who were the victims of the Alabama birthday party shooting?
Tallapoosa County Coroner Mike Knox identified the four victims of the shooting Monday as:
Marsiah Emmanuel “Siah” Collins, 19, of Opelika, Alabama
Corbin Dahmontrey Holston, 23, of Dadeville, Alabama
Philstavious “Phil” Dowdell, 18, of Camp Hill, Alabama
Shaunkivia Nicole “Keke” Smith, 17, of Dadeville, Alabama
Dowdell, a Dadeville High School senior who committed to Jacksonville State University, was partying at his sister Alexis’ party before he was shot, his grandmother Annette Allen told the Montgomery Advertiser, part of the USA TODAY Network.
She described her grandson as a humble kid who always wore a “million dollar smile.”
Dowdell’s mother was among those injured in the shooting, she said.
NO SHOOTING AT THE PARTY: 4 dead, 28 injured in shooting at birthday party in Alabama; Hundreds gather to mourn the victims
Taniya Cox, a gunshot victim who knew those killed, attended a Sunday afternoon vigil at First Baptist Church in Dadeville wearing her hospital gown and a cast on her right arm, where she had been shot twice.
Cox said the shooting began about five minutes after Dowdell’s mother ordered people with guns out of the building.
“I ran from a bullet and got shot,” she said. “I didn’t know what was going on. I just saw blood coming out of my arm.”
Who Was The Alabama Birthday Party Shooter?
Multiple questions remained unanswered by local, state and federal law enforcement Monday, including the shooter’s identity and a possible motive.
Authorities said Sunday the public was no longer threatened.
bereavement counselors in schools Monday
When students returned to Tallapoosa County schools Monday, counselors stood by to help anyone coping with the aftermath of the shooting, school district superintendent Raymond C. Porter said.
Heidi Smith, spokeswoman for Lake Martin Community Hospital in Dadeville, where 15 gunshot victims were taken, said her hospital and others would provide at least some of those counselors.
She said students would arrive at school “to a tragedy” on Monday.
“It’s going to be a tough time for graduation and for these kids, and we’re going to be there for them and their families throughout,” Smith said.
Dadeville High School’s graduation is scheduled for May 25, according to the school’s website.
“There is no playbook for something like this,‘ coach says
In Dadeville, where 485 students in grades 6 to 12 enrolled last year, head football coach Roger McDonald said he would do his best to support grieving students.
“There’s no playbook for something like this,” he said. “The best thing you can do is just love your kids, let them all know how much you care about them, to be there for them.”
Assistant coach Michael Taylor, who first met victim Dowdell when he was 9, was present when the teen’s body was carried out of the dance studio. He wasn’t sure what he would say to his other athletes on Monday.
“We have to pray our way out here,” Taylor said. “There is no other way.”
Smith was also a Dadeville High senior who managed the basketball and track teams.
Collins was a football player and graduated from Opelika High School in 2022, his father Martin Collins told AL.com. The aspiring rapper planned to attend Louisiana State University.
What gun laws are there in Alabama?
After a new law went into effect in January, anyone in Alabama 18 years or older can carry a handgun without a permit, background check, or safety training. Gov. Kay Ivey signed into law in March 2022 removing the permit requirement for concealed carry.
Alabama ranks as the state with the fifth highest rate gun-related deathsbehind Mississippi, Louisiana, Wyoming, and Missouri, according to 2020 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Ashley R. Williams, Adrianna Rodriguez and Thao Nguyen report for USA TODAY; Marty Roney reports for Montgomery Advertiser.
Contribution: The Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Alabama shooting live updates: Police identify victims, seek shooters