Alabama shooting: Young football star Phil Dowdell killed in Alabama shooting

Alabama shooting: Young football star Phil Dowdell killed in Alabama shooting

Four were killed at a 16-year-old girl's birthday party on Saturday in the small town of Dadeville.


Rising sports star Phil Dowdell has been named as one of the victims in a mass shooting at a teenager's birthday party in Alabama at the weekend.

At least four people were killed at the party in the small city of Dadeville on Saturday, and 28 more were injured, some critically.

Police have not said whether a suspect is in custody.

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The city's local pastor told the BBC the gunman was still at large and urged him to turn himself in.

Philstavious "Phil" Dowdell, the first victim to be named, was attending his sister Alexis' 16th birthday at a dance studio in the centre of the town.

He was due to graduate from the local high school to go to Jacksonville State University on an American football scholarship.

His mother is also reported to have been injured in the incident.

His grandmother, Annette Allen, told the Montgomery Advertiser local newspaper: "He was a very, very humble child. Never messed with anybody. Always had a smile on his face."

His sports coach at the local high school, Roger McDonald, described him as an outstanding young man.

"Everybody loved Phil. He always had a smile on his face. He always spoke to everyone. He was the ideal kid that you want to coach. He wasn't just a great athlete. He was a great kid," he told the paper.

One of his friends who played with him on the high school football team, where Phil was the wide receiver, told the BBC: "Phil to me was an amazing friend. God's got an angel."

Another victim has been identified by local media as Keke Nicole Smith, a once-promising athlete who was also about to graduate from the town's high school.

Ben Hayes, senior pastor at the First Baptist Church in Dadeville and also chaplain at the school football team, knew many of the students at the party.

He told the BBC he received a phone call at the weekend telling him two students had been killed and several injured, and went to the local hospital. When he arrived, there were about 250 people in the car park waiting for news.

He says Dadeville - which has just over 3,000 residents - is a very close-knit community so "this tragedy affects us very deeply".

There were about 50 people at the party, he said, when "someone from outside the community" came in and began shooting. He urged the perpetrator to turn himself in as his community needed closure.

A hospital spokesperson said at least six of the injured have been treated and released, and at least five of those still receiving treatment are in a critical condition.

The police have said nothing about how the shooting was brought to an end or about the police investigation but have urged the public to come forward with information.

This shooting takes the US to a grim milestone of more than 160 mass shootings - in which four or more people are shot - so far this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive.