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Sister, community remember victims of Alabama birthday party shooting

Phil Dowdell's family speaks out as law enforcement identifies four shooting victims and asks the public for help finding the suspect.
Posted at 2:40 PM, Apr 18, 2023

A community in Alabama is reeling from a tragic weekend. What was supposed to be a sweet 16 birthday celebration turned into a deadly rampage

Law enforcement officials in Dadeville, Alabama, have identified all four young victims killed in the shooting. Meanwhile, investigators are scrambling to find possible suspects, or a motive. 

Law enforcement officials have increased the number of injured people to 32. Investigators say they have "strong leads" in the shooting, but they have not released any information about a possible suspect or motive. 

"All I remember is just, my brother grabbing me and pushing me down while they [were] shooting," said Alexis Dowdell, the birthday girl and sister to Phil, who was one of the four people killed. "And I picked my brother up and I turned him over and I was telling him, I was like, 'You're fine.' I was like, 'You're going to make it. You are strong.' I was like, 'You are strong. Don't give up on me,'" recalled Dowdell. "And the ambulance people had arrived, and I asked them if they could come check my brother's pulse. And they checked it and they just said he was gone."

A woman embraces a Dadeville High School football player at a prayer vigil.

Another weekend of gun violence shatters communities throughout US

According to the Gun Violence Archive, the United States has seen more than 160 mass shootings in the first 16 weeks of 2023.


Phil Dowdell, 18, was a Dadeville High School senior and star football player. He had earned a scholarship to play at Jacksonville State University. 

"Loved his mom, loved his sisters. He was an athlete, played football, basketball and ran track. Like I say, everybody would say the same thing about him," said Phil's uncle, Antreal Dowdell. "You know, he had a heart of gold. He looked out for others more than he looked out for himself." 

Alabama law enforcement is providing new information in the case, saying special agents did not recover any high-powered rifle ammunition at the scene. However, they said they did recover numerous shell casings used in handguns. 

Marsiah Emmanuel Collins, 19, was identified as another victim. His father said he was an aspiring musician and was looking forward to attending Louisiana State University in the fall.

Shaunkivia Nicole Smith, 17, also died in the shooting. She was a senior at Dadeville High School. 

And Corbin Holston, a 23-year-old male from Dadeville, was the fourth identified victim. 

The police continue to ask for additional information from the public, including any videos taken at the party. 

Officials have asked the community for "patience" with the investigation, saying investigators are still processing all of the evidence in an effort to find motive and potential suspects.