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.
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.
Tallapoosa County Coroner Mike Knox on Monday released the names of those who were killed:
- Corbin Dahmontrey Holston, a 23-year-old from Dadeville, Alabama
- Marsiah Emmanuel Collins, a 19-year-old from Opelika, Alabama
- Philstavious Dowdell, an 18-year-old from Camp Hill, Alabama, and a senior at Dadeville High School
- Shaunkivia (KeKe) Nicole Smith, a 17-year-old senior at Dadeville High School
“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.
Authorities have arrested Ty Reik McCullough, 17, and Travis McCullough, 16, in connection with the shooting, according to Sgt. Jeremy Burkett with the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency.
Both suspects are facing four counts of reckless murder, Burkett said, and will be prosecuted as adults, according to Mike Segrest, District Attorney for the Fifth Judicial Circuit of Alabama.
Here’s what we know about the victims so far.
Marsiah Collins, 19, was an aspiring musician who looked forward to attending Louisiana State University in the fall, his father Martin Collins told CNN.
He described his son as an optimistic person who cared deeply about his family.
“I have my son’s picture over my bed and to wake up now and see it and know my son is dead is devastating,” Martin Collins said.
Marsiah Collins was accepted to LSU in 2022, but decided to take a year off to pursue a music career and spend more time with his mother before heading to college this upcoming fall, his father said.
Martin Collins, a Marine veteran, said his son spent the first few years of his life traveling with him, but ultimately settled with his mother in Opelika, Alabama. Martin Collins lives in Louisiana and was making plans to help his son move for college.
“He loved to spend time with his sisters, and he loved football,” Martin Collins said of his son. “Football was his life. He was very talented and overall, a smart kid.”
Marsiah Collins graduated from Opelika High School in 2022 and played defensive end on the school’s football team, his father said.
Martin Collins found out about his son’s passing early Sunday morning when his ex-wife’s cousin called to deliver the news.
“At first, I thought maybe he ran away from the gunshots and was hiding somewhere but then she told me that it wasn’t looking good,” Martin Collins said.
Philstavious Dowdell, who was also killed at the same birthday party, and Marsiah Collins were best friends, according to Martin Collins.
“Football in Alabama connects the kids,” he said. “Those kids did everything together. They would even go to each others’ high schools to watch each other play. “
Marsiah Collins is survived by his older brother, two younger sisters, father and mother.
Philstavious Dowdell was a gifted athlete who excelled at football, basketball and track at Dadeville High, the school’s track and basketball coach, Michael 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.
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.
Corbin Dahmontrey Holston
Corbin Dahmontrey Holston was a 23-year-old from Dadeville, Alabama.
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 Taylor said. She had recently torn her ACL and had to step back from running track, he added.
CNN’s Caroll Alvarado, Tina Burnside, Dianne Gallagher, Chris Boyette and Amanda Jackson contributed to this report.