Alabama birthday party shooting victim speaks out from hospital bed: ‘Nobody would help me’

‘Nobody would help me so I had to gain my strength and walk outside after being shot’

Joe Sommerlad
Wednesday 19 April 2023 09:41 BST
Dadeville shooting survivor speaks from hospital bed

Police in smalltown Dadeville, Alabama, are continuing their investigation into the mass shooting at a teenager’s birthday party that left four people dead and a further 32 injured.

The violence broke out at approximately 10.34pm on Saturday at the Mahogany Masterpiece Dance Studio in the downtown area of Dadeville where Alexis Dowdell was celebrating her 16th birthday with friends and family.

Ms Dowdell’s brother Philstavious “Phil” Dowdell, 18, a promising high school football star soon to graduate and take up a scholarship at Jacksonville State University, was shot dead at the scene, apparently having pushed Alexis out of harm’s way as she tried to flee the bloody dancefloor before dying in the arms of his mother and sister.

Also killed in the massacre were Shaunkivia (KeKe) Smith, 17, Marsiah Collins, 19, and Corbin Holston, 23.

With police remaining tight-lipped as their inquiries continue, the stories of the survivors are beginning to come to light.

One partygoer injured in the shooting was Brenazja Hutchinson, who gave an interview from her hospital bed to ABC News’s Nightline as she recovers from a bullet wound.

“I would say this has definitely been a life-changing experience,” she told the programme.

Recalling her escape from the dance studio after being struck by the gunfire, she said: “I was still inside the building yelling at them to help me, and nobody would help me so I had to gain my strength and walk outside after being shot.”

Paying tribute to Philstavious Dowdell, Ms Hutchinson said: “I feel like he didn’t deserve that because he was innocent. He had just committed to going to college and he was a sweet boy and I feel so sorry for his sister.”

Also speaking to Nightline was Keenan Cooper, the party’s DJ that night, who said: “They mentioned someone had a gun; they stopped the party for a second, asked them to leave, nobody left. The party continued. An hour later, that’s when all the shots went off.”

Investigators at the site of a fatal shooting in downtown Dadeville, Alabama (Jeff Amy/AP)

Speaking to the Associated Press, Alexis Dowdell remembered trying to comfort her brother in his final moments, saying: “I got on my knees and he was laying face down. And that’s when I grabbed him. I turned him over, I was holding him.

“I wasn’t crying at the moment because I was trying to be strong instead of panicking. And so I said, ‘You’re going to be all right. You’re a fighter, you’re strong.”

She later told CBS News Philstavious was “going in and out” of consciousness as she and her mother, Latonya Allen, held him.

“And then when somebody from the ambulance had came in and they felt his pulse and they was like, ‘He’s gone.’ And then I was just like, ‘Please don’t tell me that’.”

She added: “If it wasn’t for him, I mean, I don’t know where I’d be. I don’t know if I would still be standing here today if he would never save my life.”

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