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Five still critical after Alabama birthday party shooting

A Dadeville firefighter sits near the crime scene the day after a shooting during a teenager’s birthday party at Mahogany Masterpiece Dance Studio in Dadeville, Alabama, U.S. April 16, 2023. REUTERS/Cheney Orr

By Brendan O’Brien

(Reuters) -Five people remained in critical condition on Monday after a weekend shooting at a teenage birthday celebration in rural Alabama that left four dead, hospital authorities said.

A total of 28 people were injured in Saturday’s shooting at the Mahogany Masterpiece Dance Studio in Dadeville, a community of 3,200 people about 50 miles (80.47 km) northeast of Montgomery. The shooting occurred during a “Sweet 16” party, authorities said.

All four who were killed were high school seniors. Of the nine injured who were still hospitalized, five were in critical condition, Heidi Smith, a spokesperson for Lake Martin Community Hospital, said at a news conference on Monday.

“Dadeville is just a very small community. It was just really difficult because everybody knows everybody and seeing people come through the emergency room that you know, was very difficult,” Smith said.

One of the four people killed during the violence was a high school football player who was among those attending his sister’s “Sweet 16” birthday party, the Montgomery Advertiser newspaper reported.

The newspaper, quoting the victim’s grandmother, identified the slain teenager as Phil Dowdell, whom she said was set to graduate in a matter of weeks and planned to attend Jacksonville State University on a football scholarship.

Authorities have not said whether any suspect in the shooting had died or been arrested. They have also not disclosed what may have led to the bloodshed.

The shooting follows separate outbreaks of deadly gun violence in Tennessee and Kentucky that prompted local leaders to call for tighter gun control measures.

Mass shootings have become commonplace in the United States, with more than 163 so far in 2023, the most at this point in the year since at least 2016, according to the Gun Violence Archive. The nonprofit group defines a mass shooting as any in which four or more people are wounded or killed, not including the shooter.

The Alabama shooting also comes less than two weeks after five people, including teenagers, were shot in Isle of Palms, a beach community in South Carolina. That shooting stemmed from a fight that broke out during a “senior skip day” in which high school seniors celebrate their upcoming graduation by taking a school day off, authorities said.



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