At least four people, including a high school football player, were killed in a shooting that occurred during a birthday party held inside a dance studio in the small town of Dadeville, Alabama, state police and local news media said.
More than 28 people were injured, some critically, during the shooting about 60 miles (100km) northeast of the state capital Montgomery, authorities said. The shooting began shortly after 10.30pm on Saturday.
Law enforcement officials did not immediately say whether a suspect was in custody or whether investigators knew of a motive. Police asked people to come forward with information.
“We’re going to continue to work in a very methodical way to go through this scene, to look at the facts, and make sure that justice is served to the families,” said Jeremy Burkett, an Alabama law enforcement sergeant. agency, during a news conference on Sunday.
“We have to have information from the public,” Burkett said during a news conference Sunday afternoon.
President Joe Biden said in a statement on Sunday: “What has our nation come to when children cannot attend a birthday party without fear?” Biden called the rising gun violence in the US “enormous and unacceptable”, and urged Congress to pass laws that would make firearms manufacturers more liable for gun violence, prevent assault weapons and high capacity ammunition magazines, and which would require safe storage of firearms and background. checks for gun sales.
Philstavious “Phil” Dowdell, a senior from Dadeville who signed with Jacksonville State University, was celebrating at his sister Alexis’ party before he was fatally shot, his grandmother Annette Allen told the Montgomery Advertiser.
“He was a very humble child. Don’t mess with anyone. He always had a smile on his face,” Allen told the newspaper, calling it a “million dollar smile”.
Dowdell’s mother was among those injured in the shooting. “Everybody’s sad,” Allen said.
Pastor Ben Hayes, who serves as chaplain for the Dadeville police department and the local high school football team, said most of the victims were teenagers. Dowdell was within weeks of graduating and had a bright future ahead of him, Hayes told The Associated Press.
“He was a strong competitor on the field,” Hayes said. “You didn’t want to fight him or fight him. But when he came off the field, he was one of the nicest young men you could ever meet, he was well-respected and well-respected by his peers.”
Hayes said worried families went into the local hospital Saturday night trying to find out the condition of their children. He said serious crime was rare in Dadeville, and the small city was “sad, traumatized, in shock.”
This is at least the second time in recent years that multiple people have been shot in Dadeville. Five people were injured in July 2016 during a shooting at the American Legion hall, and a man was later charged with five counts of attempted murder, news outlets reported.
Investigators believed the shooting at the Mahogany Masterpiece studio was due to an altercation, WRBL reported.
Dadeville police chief Jonathan Floyd said at a news conference: “What we dealt with is something that no community should have to endure. I only ask for your patience. It will be a long process, but I earnestly ask for your prayers.”
More than 12 hours after the shooting, investigators continued to file in and out of the Mahogany Masterpiece dance studio on Sunday.
City and county officials were milling about at the Tallapoosa County courthouse less than a block away, when officials lowered the American and Alabama flags to half-staff.
“This morning, I am sorry for the people of Dadeville and my fellow Alabamians,” said Kay Ivey, Alabama’s governor. on Twitter.
“Violent crime has no place in our state, and we are staying closely updated with law enforcement as details emerge.”
In 2022 Ivey signed a bill into law that ended the requirement that a person obtain a permit to legally carry a concealed handgun in public. The National Rifle Association (NRA) lobbied for it.
I the announcement of her re-election campaign last year, Ivey was shown pulling a handgun from her purse while touting her gun-friendly approach, describing the second amendment as “sacred.”
Alabama has the third highest rate of gun deaths in the United States, according to a 2020 report from Everytown, an organization that works to improve gun safety and end gun violence.
Biden asked what was wrong “when parents have to worry every time their kids walk out the door to school, to the movie theater, or to the park? Guns are the number one killer of children in America, and the numbers are going up – not down. This is offensive and unacceptable.”
Biden called on Congress to “require safe storage of firearms, require background checks for all gun sales, end gun manufacturers’ immunity from liability, and ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.”
The latest shooting comes as two people were killed in a shooting in Louisville, Kentucky, on Saturday night, days after a gunman shot and killed five people in the city. The Associated Press reported that an unidentified suspect fired a gun into a crowd of hundreds at Chickasaw Park in Louisville, killing two and injuring four others.
On Monday, five people were killed when a man opened fire with a rifle like an assault at the Louisville bank where he worked. Eight others drowned.
“This has been an unspeakable week of tragedy for our city,” Louisville mayor Craig Greenberg said Saturday night. “On Monday, we lost five of our fellow citizens to a horrific act of gun violence in the workplace,” Greenberg said. “And now, five days later, we’re at another scene of a reckless act of gun violence.”