Latonya Allen was supervising her daughter’s Sweet 16 celebration at a small dance studio in Dadeville, Alabama when rumors of a gun began to circulate. Allen temporarily halted the party, turned on the lights, and instructed anyone over the age of 18 with a firearm to exit.
Later that night, the inconceivable occurred.
Phil Dowdell, the 18-year-old son of Allen and the sibling of Alexis Dowdell, was killed in the shooting.
The football prodigy and high school senior was scheduled to graduate next month. He was bound to Jacksonville State to play football.
“(Alexis Dowdell) knelt down, and we are holding him. “He was covered in blood,” Allen told CBS News. “She kept telling him, ‘Wake up, Phil, wake up,'” she explained. He was attempting to say something, but at that point he was speechless. And he ceased to breathe.”
According to Alexis Dowdell, her sibling was “in and out of consciousness.”
“When someone from the ambulance arrived and checked his pulse, they proclaimed, ‘He’s dead’.” “At that point, I was like ‘Please don’t tell me that,'” she recalled.
Alexis stated that her older brother’s last act was to grab her by the waist and force her down, thereby shielding her from the gunfire.
She said, “If it weren’t for him, I don’t know where I’d be.” “I don’t know if I would still be standing here today if he had never saved my life.”
17-year-old Shaunkivia Smith, along with 19-year-old Masriah Collins and 23-year-old Corbin Holston, who allegedly did not attend the celebration but went to check on a younger family member, were also killed.
Sunday evening, a vigil for the victims was conducted. Daquan Doss, one of the attendees, had known Phil Dowdell since Kindergarten.
“I was standing right beside him,” a visibly shaken Doss told CBS News. “The next thing I know, they are opening fire on him. I believe he dove straight in. I took the opposite route. I wish I could have attracted him to me.”
The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency stated in a Monday afternoon news release that at least 32 people were injured in the shooting and that investigators were “still processing all of the evidence… in an effort to solidify a motive and potential suspects.”