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'My heart is scattered': Tributes pour in for victims of Dadeville mass shooting

News'My heart is scattered': Tributes pour in for victims of Dadeville mass shooting

Alabama: Multiple people shot at gathering in downtown Dadeville

Two victims of a mass shooting in Dadeville have been identified after four people were killed at a Sweet 16 birthday party in the small Alabama town.

Top athlete Philstavious “Phil” Dowdell, an honours student at Dadeville High School, was killed while celebrating his sister’s 16th birthday. He was on course to play Division I college football at Jacksonville State University.

Keke Nicole Smith, 18, was identified as another victim of the shooting by her cousin Amy Jackson posting to social media.

“My heart is scattered,” Ms Jackson wrote. Keke was a volleyball player and team manager for the Dadeville High School track team, according to coach Michael Taylor speaking to the New York Times.

Two other victims have been named on social media, however, their deaths have not been confirmed.

Tributes poured in for the victims of the massacre, but police have still not released any information on a potential suspect or suspects, including a motive.

Antojuan Woody, who played with Dowdell, said they had been best friends for most of their lives.

READ MORE: Four dead and more than 20 injured after mass shooting at party

Students embrace at a vigil for the victims.

Students embrace at a vigil for the victims who are thought to be teenagers. (Image: AP)

“It hurts,” Woody said as a steady stream of friends and teammates walked over to hug him during Sunday’s prayer vigil. “It’s unreal. I can’t believe it.

“Us being friends forever like that, our chemistry was spot on. We always celebrated together on the field.”

He said the victims were “great people who didn’t deserve what happened to them”.

Dowdell’s grandmother Annette Allen told the Montgomery Advertiser that he had been celebrating at his sister’s birthday party when the shooting occurred.

“He was a very, very humble child. Never messed with anybody. Always had a smile on his face,” she said, adding he had a “million dollar smile”. Dowdell’s mother is believed to be among those hurt in the shooting.

Ms Smith was identified by her cousin Amy Jackson on Facebook.

Ms Jackson said: “My lil cousin Ke…Please give our family respect during this time of bereavement Give us strength and understanding Mighty God. Praying for all loved ones that have lost their life or were injured.”

She added: “We love you Ke…it was a mass shooting in my hometown Dadeville Al…they took her from us.”

Hospital officials confirmed 28 people were also injured in the shooting, including 15 teenagers given treatment for gunshot wounds. Several are still in critical condition at Dadeville’s Lake Martin Community Hospital. Six teenagers were discharged from hospital after treatment.

Keenan Cooper, the DJ at the party, told WBMA-TV it was stopped when attendees heard someone had a gun. He said people with guns were asked to leave, but no one left. Cooper said that, when the shooting began sometime later, partygoers took shelter under a table where he was standing and others ran out.

Pastor Jason Whetstone, who leads the Christian Faith Fellowship, said the granddaughter of one of his church members was shot in the foot and underwent surgery on Sunday.

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“All of our hearts are hurting right now. We’re just trying to pull together to find strength and comfort,” Whetstone said before an interfaith vigil in the parking lot of First Baptist Church.

The gunfire erupted at about 10.30pm at the Sweet 16 birthday party on Saturday night in Dadeville, a small town of 3,200 about 57 miles from the state capital of Montgomery.

Police were on the scene for nearly 10 hours before officially confirming that an incident had taken place.

Bullet holes could be seen in the front window of the Mahogany Masterpiece dance studio in downtown Dadeville where the shooting took place while investigators streamed in and out of the building.

US President Joe Biden has been briefed on the mass shooting, one of two that occurred in America that evening. Two people were also killed in Louisville, Kentucky while six were left injured.

Police at the scene in Dadeville, Alabama.

Police were on the scene for hours before confirming that an incident had occured. (Image: AP)

Biden said: “What has our nation come to when children cannot attend a birthday party without fear? When parents have to worry every time their kids walk out the door to school, to the movie theatre, or to the park?

“Guns are the leading killer of children in America, and the numbers are rising – not declining. This is outrageous and unacceptable.”

He called on Congress to pass laws that would “require safe storage of firearms, require background checks for all gun sales, eliminate gun manufacturers’ immunity from liability, and ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines”.

There have been more than 160 mass shootings in America this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive, more mass shootings than days so far in 2023.

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