A Sweet 16 party turned into a carnage scene when four people were killed and at least 15 teenagers were wounded Saturday night in Dadeville, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency said.
According to Sgt. Jeremy J. Burkett, the incident resulted in the loss of four lives as well as a multitude of injuries.
Ben Hayes, the football team’s chaplain, and Keenan Cooper, the DJ at the party when the gunfire erupted, said Philstavious Dowdell was among the victims. Dowdell is the brother of the birthday girl.
It’s really sad to see all of those kids were shot and die,” he said. “Seeing all those bodies at the front door, all those kids are probably going to be traumatized.”
A total of 15 teenagers were treated at Dadeville’s Lake Martin Community Hospital for gunshot wounds – including several who are in critical condition. Six of the teenagers have been treated and released.
The incident occurred at the Mahogany Masterpiece dance studio during a Sweet 16 party at around 10:30 p.m. Locally, Heidi Smith, the marketing director of Ivy Creek Healthcare, reported that her hospital treated over fifteen gunshot victims with seventeen ambulances present.
Some of those affected were released after receiving treatment from Lake Martin Community Hospital while others had to be transported to other medical institutions; some were even flown to Birmingham’s trauma center.
Raymond Porter, the superintendent of Tallapoosa County Schools, stated that counselors would be available tomorrow at multiple campuses to provide students with support. He emphasized that children will bear the brunt of the recent tragedy and clarified that this incident does not reflect their community or its youth.
While authorities have yet to release information regarding the victims’ ages or identities, it is worth noting that gun violence has surpassed car accidents as the primary cause of death among people 19 years old or younger in 2020, making incidents such as this sweet 16 birthday party shooting even more devastating.
The Gun Violence Archive, an independent organization, reports 163 mass shootings in the U.S. so far this year. As defined by the group, a mass shooting occurs when there are four or more victims, excluding the shooter.
The attack occurred less than a week after a gunman opened fire at a bank in Louisville, Ky., killing five people and injuring nine others.
The White House said President Joe Biden and his team have been in touch with local authorities to provide support and are closely monitoring the situation following the shooting. Kay Ivey tweeted on Sunday morning that she was grieving the events in Dadeville, but did not provide additional details.