At least four people were killed and as many as 20 people were injured in a mass shooting during a 16-year-old’s birthday party in small-town Alabama. The shooting took place at the Mahogany Masterpiece Dance Studio at around on Saturday night. One of the victims was identified as the brother of the birthday girl.
Most of the victims were teens since the shooting happened during a Sweet 16 celebration, according to Pastor Ben Hayes, who also serves as the team chaplain for the local high school football team and the Dadeville Police Department. A video circulating on social media reportedly shows people running outside the studio as gunfire is heard in the background.
Horror at Birthday Party
The shooting took place inside the Mohagany Masterpiece dance studio at roughly 10:30 p.m. in Dadeville, Alabama, close to East Green Street and North Broadnax Street, according to the twice-weekly publication The Alexander City Outlook.
More than 20 people were shot and sent to nearby hospitals in unknown conditions, according to the local channel WRBL, citing law enforcement sources.
As of early Sunday, police had not provided any details about a suspect or explained what they thought caused the violence.
“One of the young men that was killed was one of our star athletes and just a great guy,” Hayes told the Associated Press. “So I knew many of these students. Dadeville is a small town and this is going to affect everybody in this area.”
The victim gas has been identified as Phil Dowdell.
Dowdell, a senior who would have graduated in a few weeks, was celebrating his sister Alexis’ birthday. His grandma confirmed this on Sunday morning.
The teen, who in February received a full scholarship to Jacksonville State, is the first victim to be properly identified as four people died in all, according to state officials.
After declining to speak to the media for more than 10 hours, investigators confirmed that there were several others injured as a consequence of the incident after witness testimonies stated at least 20 were shot, the majority of whom are believed to be teens.
Although the town’s police department turned over the investigation to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA), authorities have not yet provided any additional information on the victims or a probable suspect.
A chilling photo appears to show victims laying on the ground of the venue is currently doing the rounds online. Witnesses claimed seeing several people running and screaming from the scene.
“The investigation is a result of a shooting which occurred at approximately 10:34 pm near the 200 Block of Broadnax Street in Dadeville, located in Tallapoosa County,” ALEA said.
“The following agencies responded to the scene and are currently assisting with the investigation: The Dadeville Police Department, Tallapoosa County Sheriff’s Office, Bureau of Alcohol, the Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and the 5 Circuit District Attorney’s Office.
“Nothing further is available as the investigation is ongoing.”
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey decried the violence in a tweet, writing, “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.”
Dadeville, which is a part of Tallapoosa County, is about 60 miles from Montgomery, the site of the state’s administrative center.
The US Census Bureau estimates that there are a little over 3,000 people living in the town.