Ian Payne 4am - 7am
Rising sports star among four killed, as 28 injured in mass shooting at sister's birthday party in Alabama
16 April 2023, 17:58 | Updated: 17 April 2023, 05:18
An up-and-coming high school football star was among four people killed in a mass shooting at his sister's birthday party in Alabama.
Officials say 28 people were also injured in the gun attack, with a number remaining in a critical condition in hospital police say.
The shooting reportedly took place at a teenager's 16th birthday party in the city of Dadeville, in Tallapoosa County, late on Saturday evening.
It has not yet been confirmed what led to the incident, with police confirming the suspect was "no longer a threat to the community".
It is yet to be confirmed whether the suspect is in police custody.
"We're going to continue to work in a very methodical way to go through this scene, to look at the facts, and ensure that justice is brought to bear for the families," said Jeremy Burkett, a sergeant with the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency.
Among those killed was up-and-coming American football player Philstavious "Phil" Dowdell who had just signed with Jacksonville State University.
Mr Dowdell was celebrating at his sister Alexis's birthday party before being shot dead in the attack, his grandmother Annette Allen told The Montgomery Advertiser.
"He was a very, very humble child. Never messed with anybody. Always had a smile on his face," she told the outlet, calling it "a million-dollar smile".
Mr Dowdell was had offers from several universities but made the decision to attend Jacksonville on February 1.
His mother was also hurt in the shooting.
Jeremy Burkett, a sergeant with the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency Speaking confirmed earlier that the attack was "tied to a birthday party".
Speaking shortly before 11am local time on Sunday, he said: "There were four lives, not fatalities, lives, lost in this incident," he said, as well as a "multitude of injuries".
"We're going to continue to work through in a very methodical way to go through this scene, to look at the facts and ensure that justice is brought to bear for the families. We will do that," he added.
Tallapoosa County Schools Superintendent Raymond Porter has said that counselling will be provided for students at schools in the area on Monday.
"We will make every effort to comfort those children and don't lose sight of the fact that those are the ones most impacted by this situation," he said.
Police are expected to provide a further update at around 1pm local time (7pm BST).
The shooting took place at Mahogany Masterpiece Dance Studio, with news station WRBL-TV showing images of crime scene tape around the venue and nearby buildings, and a heavy police presence.
Pastor Ben Hayes, who serves as the chaplain for the Dadeville Police Department and and the local high school football team, said most of those caught in the attack were teenagers.
"One of the young men that was killed was one of our star athletes and just a great guy," he said.
"I knew many of these students. Dadeville is a small town and this is going to affect everybody in this area."
Police haven't yet given any information regarding a possible motive for the shooting, which took place at around 10.30pm.
In a statement, Alabama governor Kay Ivey said: "This morning, I grieve with the people of Dadeville and my fellow Alabamians.
"Violent crime has no place in our state, and we are staying closely updated by law enforcement as details emerge."
In a statement on Sunday, President Biden said he is praying for the victims families, and called for action on "common sense" reform to gun laws.
"Instead, this past week Americans saw national Republican elected leaders stand alongside the NRA in a race to the bottom on dangerous laws that further erode gun safety," he said. "Our communities need and deserve better," said Biden.
Dadeville is a small rural city of around 3,000 people, in the east of the state.
According to Gun Violence Archive, there have been 162 mass shootings in the United States so far this year.
The Dadeville shooting comes just weeks after two high-profile gun attacks in Tennessee and Kentucky, which led to renewed calls to bring in tighter gun control measures.