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CNN
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As a room full of Sweet 16 attendees in Dadeville, Alabama, moved to the sounds of a DJ Saturday night, their party was abruptly ended by an eruption of gunfire that injured dozens and left four partygoers dead, at least two of whom were local high school seniors on the brink of graduation.

One of the victims, Philstavious Dowdell, was the brother of the birthday girl, according to people who knew him.

The shooting has devastated the city of about 3,000 people where “everybody knows everybody,” Ben Hayes, chaplain of Dadeville High School’s football team, told CNN.

“I knew these kids personally. Most people did,” said Hayes, who is also a church pastor and chaplain for the Dadeville Police Department.

At least 28 people were injured in the mass shooting, many of whom were teenagers. One hospital that received 15 injured teens said Sunday it had treated and released six of the patients and transferred the rest to other facilities. Of those, five were in critical condition and four were stable, a hospital spokesperson said.

Here’s what we know about the victims so far.

Keke Smith

Keke Smith was a high school senior looking forward to attending The University of Alabama, said Amy Jackson, who identified herself as Smith’s cousin.

“She was always smiling,” Jackson said.

Smith’s mother was the person who told Jackson that her cousin had been killed, she said.

Smith was a student athletics manager for Dadeville High School’s track team and helped out the basketball team, assistant football, track and basketball coach Michael Taylor said. She had recently torn her ACL and had to step back from running track, he added.

Philstavious Dowdell

Dowdell was a gifted athlete who excelled at football, basketball and track at Dadeville High, Taylor said.

“Anything put in his hand, God blessed him to be able to do it,” said Taylor, who has coached Dowdell since he was 9 years old.

The oldest of three siblings, Dowdell was killed while attending his younger sister’s birthday party, according to Taylor. Hayes, the pastor, and Keenan Cooper, a DJ at the party, also confirmed Dowdell was among those killed.

Just about a month ago, the coach said, Dowdell had told him, “If anything ever happened to me, even when I go to college, take care of my two sisters.”

The teenager had secured a scholarship to play football at Alabama’s Jacksonville State University, according to Cooper, who described Dowdell as “kind of like the hometown hero.”

Jacksonville State head coach Rich Rodriguez said in a statement Sunday that Dowdell was “a great young man with a bright future.”

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Philstavious Dowdell and the other victims of the senseless tragedy last night, ” Rodriguez said Sunday.

Dadeville's Philstavious Dowdell (7) fends off an opposing player during a football game on October 08, 2021.

Taylor described Dowdell as a humble person who he knew “like a son,” explaining that his own college-aged son was very close to Dowdell and the two often trained together.

“His grandmother gave him a scripture every morning before he went to school to make sure he was always on point,” the coach said.




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