Posted on April 17, 2023

Alabama Town Mourns After 4 Killed at Teen Birthday Party

Kim Chandler and Jeff Amy, Associated Press, April 17, 2023

Students in the tiny Alabama town of Dadeville wore their black and gold school colors Monday as they mourned two seniors were among four young people killed by gunfire at a Sweet 16 birthday party over the weekend.

Less than six weeks from graduation, faculty, staff and students filed past flags at half-staff to meet counselors waiting to talk about the shooting, which also injured 28 at the Mahogany Masterpiece dance studio off the courthouse square. The school, with its 485 students in grades 6-12, is central to community life in Dadeville, population 3,200, where “Home of the Tigers” is painted on the water tower and local businesses sport signs proclaiming “This is Tiger Country.”

Investigators were still trying to piece together what happened at the party, where numerous gunshots left the dance studio’s windows pocked with bullet holes. While police sought clues, others said they were tending the community’s heart.


The weekend was marked by a series of high-profile shootings in the U.S. One left two people dead and four wounded Saturday in Louisville, Missouri; another resulted in four men being shot — one fatally — in Los Angeles; and a third left two women wounded at Lincoln University in southeastern Pennsylvania.

Dadeville locals were quick to say that such violence was uncharacteristic of their community, but gun deaths are more common in Alabama than in most places. The state had the fifth highest rate of gun deaths nationwide in 2020, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It wasn’t clear if all 28 people injured in Dadeville were shot or if some suffered other injuries. Smith said 15 people with gunshot wounds were seen at her hospital. More were taken to other facilities.

Those killed were identified as Marsiah Emmanuel “Siah” Collins, 19, of Opelika; Corbin Dahmontrey Holston, 23, of Dadeville; Philstavious “Phil” Dowdell, 18, of Camp Hill and Shaunkivia Nicole “Keke” Smith, 17, of Dadeville, Tallapoosa County Coroner Mike Knox told The Associated Press on Monday. Relatives had identified Dowdell and Smith on Sunday.


It was still unclear who started the shooting or why, or whether investigators had made any arrests. {snip}