Authorities say six people, including four teens, have been arrested and face murder charges concerning the deadly rampage at a weekend Sweet 16 birthday celebration in Dadeville, Alabama.
Willie George Brown Jr., 19, was arrested and charged with four counts of reckless murder on Thursday, according to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency. Johnny Letron Brown, 20, of Tuskegee, was arrested and charged with four charges of reckless murder earlier Thursday, according to the agency.
Wilson LaMar Hill Jr., 20, of Auburn, was detained Wednesday afternoon and faced the same allegations, according to a news release from the agency. It’s unclear whether Hill has an attorney.
Ty Reik McCullough, 17, and Travis McCullough, 16, both of Tuskegee, were arrested Tuesday night and face four counts of reckless murder, according to Alabama Law Enforcement Agency Sgt. Jeremy Burkett.
A 15-year-old Tuskegee teen was detained Thursday morning and faced the same accusations, according to the agency, which did not name the teen.
The suspects, except for the 15-year-old, were being held without bond at the Tallapoosa County Jail on Thursday, according to the agency. It made no indication of the 15-year-old’s confinement location or conditions.
The incident on Saturday night killed four people and injured at least 32 others, including at least 15 teens who were shot. More charges will be filed because of the injuries, and Ty Reik McCullough and Travis McCullough will be charged as adults, according to Fifth Circuit District Attorney Mike Segrest.
“We still have four in the hospital, four in critical condition,” Segrest said on Wednesday. “This is just the tip of the iceberg.”
Based on the Gun Violence Archive, there were at least 165 mass shootings in the United States in the first four months of this year, with four or more people shot but no gunman. However, it is still unclear why the young victims were slaughtered.
“We can’t get into motives right now,” Burkett explained. “That is part of a continuing investigation.” That is something we cannot discuss.”
Authorities also did not specify what, if any, link the suspects had to Alexis Dowdell’s Sweet 16 party. Tuskegee is around 30 miles south of Dadeville, and Auburn is approximately 25 miles away.
Gunfire broke out while the party was in full flow, according to witnesses. The Tallapoosa County coroner reported that Corbin Dahmontrey Holston, 23, Marsiah Emmanuel Collins, 19, Shaunkivia “Keke” Nicole Smith, 17, and Alexis’ 18-year-old brother, Philstavious “Phil” Dowdell, were also dead.
At the Mt. Lovely Baptist Church in Camp Hill, Alabama, a candlelight vigil in honor of Phil was planned for 6 p.m. CT on Thursday.
‘All I want is justice for my baby’
The family of one slain victim was relieved to discover that the first two suspects had been apprehended after four days of misery and uncertainty.
“I’m glad the investigation is going well and that someone will be held accountable for all of the victims,” said LaShonda Allen, Alexis, and Phil Dowdell’s aunt.
Her relatives did not recognize the identities of the teen suspects, who were not invited to the party, she claimed.
What should have been a night of joy for her daughter’s 16th birthday turned into a lifetime of agony for her sister LaTonya Allen after the death of her 18-year-old son.
Phil was shot twice in the neck and died one month before graduating from high school. He was excited to be attending Jacksonville State University on a football scholarship.
“I just want justice for my baby and all the other kids involved,” Allen said last week on the associated press. “They took away a piece of my heart, and I know the other mothers and fathers feel the same way.”
The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency said that, in addition to the four fatalities, 32 individuals were injured.
At least 15 of them were shot and sent to Dadeville’s Lake Martin Community Hospital, according to a spokeswoman earlier this week.
He died after assisting in the rescue of his sister from gunshots
Alexis had been organizing her Sweet 16 for months and had “butterflies in my stomach” on the day of the celebration, according to the associated press.
Alexis recalls going to her brother and sitting on his bed to tell him she was worried. Phil consoled her and told her that she would have a good time.
Their mother later heard a report at the party that someone at the location was armed. “If anyone in here has a gun, then you need to leave because we’re here to celebrate Alexis’ Sweet 16,” Allen stated over the speaker.
Allen and other chaperones searched the gathering for anyone carrying a gun but found none, according to the mom. And, according to Alexis, her mother, and the DJ, they did not hear any fights or disturbances.
However, as the teenagers were dancing to the music of a DJ, a shooting erupted.
“All I remember is my brother grabbing me and pushing me down to the ground,” Alexis recalled.
She landed in a pool of blood.
Alexis stood up and hurried outside, where she found her mother.
However, Phil was nowhere to be found.
When the firing ceased, the mother and daughter returned inside.
They claimed that the bodies of the injured and dying lay spread around the poorly lighted dance floor.
The lights came on, and horror-struck Alexis and her mother: Phil’s body was drenched in blood.
Alexis dashed over to soothe her big brother, who was drifting in and out of consciousness.
“You’re going to be OK. “You’re brave,” she said to Phil. “Don’t ever give up on me.”
But, by the time first responders arrived, Phil was gone, according to Alexis.
Allen is now forced to live with the agony that no mother should have to endure, she says.
“It’s a nightmare that I don’t wish on any parent – to go in and see my baby laying there in a pile of blood,” she added. “That was the worst thing I could have ever experienced in my life.”