DADEVILLE, Ala. (AP) — Two people have been arrested and charged with murder in connection with an Alabama shooting that killed four people at a Sweet 16 birthday party, investigators announced Wednesday.
This was the first police news conference since Sunday.
Saturday’s violence shocked Dadeville, a sleepy town of 3,200. In addition to the four young people who died, another 32 were wounded, some critically.
Shooting broke out at a birthday party for Alexis Dowdell, which was being held at a dance studio just off the town’s courthouse square. Witnesses have said multiple people began shooting some time after Dowdell’s mother paused the celebration to ask people with guns to leave.
The birthday girl’s brother, Philstavious “Phil” Dowdell, died in his sister’s arms. He and another victim were high school seniors, and families were left planning funerals instead of graduation celebrations. Two other young men were also killed.
The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency had said only that shell casings from handguns had been found, noting that there was no evidence a high-powered rifle was used. Investigators repeatedly appealed for information from the public, including videos.
Besides Phil Dowdell, a star wide receiver with plans to play college football, those killed were fellow Dadeville High senior Shaunkivia Nicole “KeKe” Smith, 17, an athlete-turned-team manager; 2022 Opelika High School graduate Marsiah Emmanuel “Siah” Collins, 19, an aspiring singer who planned to start college this fall; and 2018 Dadeville High graduate Corbin Dahmontrey Holston, 23, another former athlete at the school.
Holston had gone to the party to check on a younger family member who feared trouble, Holston’s mother Janett Heard told AL.com. Relatives told the news outlet that the shooting began shortly after Holston arrived, and that he pulled his younger relative to safety.
In 2020, Alabama had the fifth highest rate of gun deaths in the country, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.