Phil Dowdell, who recently committed to playing wide receiver at Jacksonville State University, was one of the best players in the state.
Michael Taylor, who helps coach football, basketball, and track at Dadeville High, said, “He was the best athlete in the school.”
Taylor said, “The first thing we need to do is pray our way out of this.” “There’s no other way….” At high school, they’re all very close, like family.
His grieving grandmother, Annette Allen, told the Montgomery Adviser that the high school senior was ki*lled at the party for his sister Alexis.
“He was a very, very modest kid.” Never got into trouble with anyone. Allen said, “He always had a smile on his face.”
On Facebook a week ago, Dowdell wrote, “Everyday my life go up & up, it’s hard for me to get mad.”
His senior prom date and himself both wore sparkly yellow outfits, and he wore shorts and a jacket that matched. He shared pictures of them on the same day.
His sister changed her Facebook picture to a picture of herself kissing her brother on the cheek.
KeKe Nicole Smith, a senior at Dadeville High School and former athlete, was named as another victim who had been ki*lled. She was described as “so full of love.”
Allen said that nearly 30 people were hurt in the fight, including Dowdell’s mother, who was shot twice.
His grandmother said Dowdell, who had a “million-dollar smile,” was almost done with high school and would be going to Jacksonville State on a football scholarship.
The university’s head football coach said in a statement on Sunday that he was saddened by the de*aths of Dowdell and the others.
In a tweet, Jax head coach Rich Rodriguez said, “Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Philstavious Dowdel and the other victims of the senseless tragedy last night.”
Rodriguez wrote, “He was a great young man with a bright future.” “Everyone on my staff and I is heartbroken. Please help his family get through this tough time.”
A source told AL.com that the teen also did very well in track and played basketball while getting good grades.
“It’s a little town.” This kind of crime doesn’t happen very often. “That’s shocking, very shocking,” Taylor said.
Smith, the other person whose body has been found, was in charge of the school’s basketball and track and field teams and played volleyball and softball until her junior year, when she tore her ACL.
He said that the last time he saw Smith was on Friday, when she came with him to help out at an event in Troy.
He told the Alexander City Outlook, “She was full of love.” “She was very humble, just like Phil, and she had that big smile that Phil had.” She was always making fun of us, even me, and it got on our nerves. She had so much life in her.”
Like Dowdell’s, Smith’s Facebook page was full of pictures of her and her senior prom date posing outside of high school.
Around 10:30 p.m., gunfire broke out at the Mohagany Masterpiece dance studio in the small town of Dadeville, which is about 60 miles east of Montgomery, the state capital. At least 17 teens were shot.
Allen said that many parents didn’t know where their kids were after the shooting and had to go from one hospital to another to look for them.
Up to 250 people were outside of a hospital in east Alabama.
“It was a very sad, sad scene, a very rough night,” pastor Ben Hayes, who serves as the chaplain for the Dadeville Police Department and for the local high school football team, told AL.com.
Dadeville Mayor Frank Goodman said a council member called him about a half-hour after the shooting to tell him what happened. The mayor said he went to the local hospital.
“It was chaotic,” Goodman said. “There were people running around. They were crying and screaming. There were police cars everywhere, there were ambulances everywhere. People were trying to find out about their loved ones.
We’d never seen anything like that happen in our city before.
Hayes talked about Dowdell when he said, “One of the young men who was kil*led was one of our best athletes and a great guy all around.”
“This will affect everyone in this small town of Dadeville.”
He also told AL.com, “This is a good family in our community with good kids. These are some of the best people in charge of this party.”
Hayes says that the shooting happened during a fight of some kind. The Montgomery Advertiser reports that police have not named a suspect or said what they think caused the violence. They have only said that the shooter is no longer a threat to the community.
Multiple law enforcement agencies have been assisting the Dadeville Police Department, including the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency’s State Bureau of Investigation and the Tallapoosa County Sheriff’s Office.