Investigators in Dadeville, Alabama, are still attempting to uncover what caused the turmoil that occurred over the weekend during a Sweet 16 birthday party that was disrupted by a gunshot that left at least 28 people wounded and four people dead.
The shots were said to have started going off at 10:30 p.m. on Saturday night, according to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency. The authorities have not yet given any information on a probable suspect or motive, nor have they disclosed what led up to the incident.
Ben Hayes, the Dadeville High School football team chaplain, and Keenan Cooper, the party’s DJ, both claim that Philstavious Dowdell, the brother of the birthday girl, was among those killed when gunfire erupted. He excelled at football and was much admired for his skills.
Just a few weeks before the deadly shooting, Dowdell had reportedly urged Michael Taylor, the assistant football coach, “If anything ever happened to me, even when I go to college, take care of my two sisters.”
According to Taylor and Amy Jackson, Smith’s cousin, Keke Smith, who was a senior in high school, was also one of the victims.
According to Sergeant Jeremy J. Burkett of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, the shooting caused “a wide variety of injuries” to dozens of partygoers, some of whom remained in serious condition as of Sunday afternoon.
Hayes, who is also a church pastor and a chaplain for the Dadeville Police Department, spent Saturday night at a hospital where many wounded were brought to comfort students and family who had gathered there.
“It’s a very close, tight knit community. Everybody knows everybody. That’s why this is so difficult.” He added, “I knew these kids personally, most people did.”
Teneeshia Goodman-Johnson, a member of the city council in Dadeville, told a CNN affiliate that the community’s primary emphasis ought to be on providing emotional support to children as they mourn.
“Their physical, their mental, their emotional health is my priority right now,” Johnson told affiliate WAKA. “We need to make sure that they are okay.” Burkett said that inquiries into the incident are still ongoing and that investigators are gathering further information.