Alexis Dowdell’s 18-year-old brother Phil arrived to pick her up after hearing rumors that a pistol had been brought to her 16th birthday celebration at a dance studio in rural Dadeville. Even LaTonya Allen, her mother, had heard the rumors. She claimed that she activated the lights, approached the DJ, and politely asked anyone armed to leave the party.
In the end, she reverted to darkness because nobody had spoken up. Soon after, shooting began. Alexis described the moment to the BBC as follows:“All of a sudden you hear gunshots and you just see everybody running towards the door and people falling and screaming,”
She claimed that during the ruckus, her brother Phil pushed her to the ground. She managed to get out of the building and hide outside until aid arrived. Alexis claimed she hid in a different structure in case her attacker was still at large. She returned inside and found her brother dead from a gunshot wound.
A lot of blood had been lost. As he lapsed in and out of consciousness, she remained by his side. He opened his eyes and arched an eyebrow as she held him close to her chest, but he still couldn’t speak. “The last thing I told him was to stay strong,” she said. She continued by saying that her birthday will change forever.
Dadeville is a small, close-knit village of around 3,000 people, and on Saturday night, an incident at a party there left 32 people injured. The police have not yet identified a suspect or a motive, but they have asked for the public’s help in solving the case.
Alexis and her mother have stated that they are unsure of the circumstances surrounding the incident. The city’s pastor informed the BBC that the shooter has yet to be apprehended. Dadeville’s mayor, Jimmy Frank Goodman Sr., described the chaotic sight at the hospital following the shooting to the BBC, saying it was worse than anything he saw while serving in Vietnam.
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“There were people crying, bodies going into the emergency room, and bloody clothes on the ground,” he said. Phil Dowdell, the eldest of three children, was revered as a talented athlete and dependable friend. He earned a full athletic scholarship to attend Jacksonville State University.
Alexis remarked that she had fun going to her brother’s football games and joking about with him. Whenever the two of them had an argument, he would always open the door for others and come into her room to apologize, she said.
Ms. Allen gushed that her kid had excelled “in every way” in her eyes. “A piece of my heart is ripped out,” she said. “He was supposed to graduate next month. Instead of me going to graduation I’ll be going to the cemetery to see my son.”
In the 107 days of 2023 so far, there have been at least 163 mass shootings. I’m not a math teacher, but that’s more shootings than days. Gun violence is preventable. We can – and we must – act. #EndGunViolence https://t.co/9CcJ9As48h
— Randi Weingarten 🇺🇦🇺🇸💪🏿👩🎓 (@rweingarten) April 17, 2023
Others who lost their lives include Shaunkivia Smith (age 17), Marsiah Collins (age 19), and Corbin Holston (age 23). Friends and family of Ms. Smith said she was on track to complete her high school education. Mr. Collins, a star player on the varsity football team, had his sights set on a career in law.
After hearing rumblings of turmoil, Mr. Holston reportedly attended the party to see how a relative was doing. The flags flying near Dadeville High School are at half-staff. Sunday night was a vigil for the four people who had passed away. Hundreds of people showed up, some of whom were shot and injured.
According to Casey Davis, the local board of education’s deputy superintendent, clergy and grief counselors would be made available to the public. The Gun Violence Archive counts more than 160 mass shootings so far this year in the United States. A mass shooting is defined as an incident in which four or more individuals are shot.
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