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At least 15 teenagers were also wounded in the shooting on Saturday night in Dadeville, Ala., officials said.
At least four people were killed and at least 15 teenagers were injured in a shooting at a birthday party on Saturday night in an Alabama city, officials said.
Sgt. Jeremy Burkett, a spokesman for the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, said at a news conference on Sunday that the shooting in Dadeville took place around 10:34 p.m.
“This is going to be a long, complicated process,” said Sergeant Burkett, who did not provide information about who opened fire or why. Officials did not take questions at the news conference.
The shooting took place at the Mahogany Masterpiece dance studio, The Montgomery Advertiser reported. Dadeville is about 60 miles northeast of Montgomery, and about 3,000 people live there.
The studio hosted Zumba and line dancing classes for children and teenagers and had been rehearsing for a dance showcase celebrating its second anniversary on April 29, according to its Facebook page. A representative of the studio could not be immediately reached on Sunday.
After ambulances overwhelmed the community on Saturday night, residents on Sunday morning grappled with the shooting, which took place at a 16th birthday party, said Ben Hayes, the senior pastor at Dadeville First Baptist Church.
Philstavious Dowdell, a Dadeville High School football player who was known as Phil and who had committed to Jacksonville State University, was one of those killed, the pastor said.
Pastor Hayes is also the chaplain of the city’s Police Department and the chaplain of the high school football team. “Everybody knows everybody, so this has been pretty tough,” he said.
At least 15 teenagers were treated for gunshot wounds, said Heidi Smith, a spokeswoman for Lake Martin Community Hospital in Dadeville.
She said that nine of the teenagers were transferred to a different hospital to receive a higher level of care and that five of those nine were in critical condition. There were 17 ambulances on the scene after the shooting, Ms. Smith said.
Officials did not specify the ages of the victims.The superintendent of the Tallapoosa County Board of Education, Raymond Porter, said at the news conference that schools would provide counseling to students on Monday. “We will make every effort to comfort those children,” Mr. Porter said.
Gov. Kay Ivey of Alabama said on Twitter on Sunday morning that her office was receiving updates about the shooting.
“This morning, I grieve with the people of Dadeville and my fellow Alabamians,” the governor said. “Violent crime has NO place in our state, and we are staying closely updated by law enforcement as details emerge.”
Senator Katie Boyd Britt, Republican of Alabama, said on Twitter that her “heart breaks waking up” to the shooting.
“Please join me in lifting up the victims, their loved ones, and the Dadeville community in prayer,” she wrote.
President Biden was briefed on the shooting, and he and his staff have been in contact with local law enforcement and local officials to offer support, White House officials said.
In addition to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, the Dadeville Police Department is being helped by the Tallapoosa County Sheriff’s Office, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the F.B.I. and the local district attorney’s office.
Guns are the leading killer of children in the United States, making it an extreme outlier compared with similarly large and wealthy nations. In 2020, gun violence surpassed car accidents and disease to become the leading killer of children.
The gun death rate for children in the United States is nearly five in every 100,000. The rate had been flat for more than a decade starting in 2000 and started to creep up in 2014. Researchers who study gun violence say that it is difficult to explain why the rate has risen so quickly, but most emphasize that the proliferation of guns has most likely played a role.