Dadeville shooting victim attends vigil in hospital gown

“I saw a group of girls dancing and that’s when the gunshots went off,” survivor Taniya Cox said

Andrea Blanco
Tuesday 18 April 2023 09:55 BST
Four killed, several injured after shooting at birthday party in Alabama

A survivor of the Dadeville, Alabama, mass shooting attended a vigil in her hospital gown just a day after the tragedy.

A “Sweet 16” birthday party in the Alabama town turned violent when gunfire erupted around 10.34pm on Saturday, leaving four people dead and 28 others injured. Nearly 48 hours on, no arrests have been made and authorities declined to speculate on the suspect or their possible motivation. Authories did say there was no further active threat to the community.

Taniya Cox, an 18-year-old who was shot twice in her right arm as she fled the party, joined hundreds of residents, community leaders and local politicians at a vigil on Sunday night, the Montgomery Advertiser reported. In an interview with CBS News, Ms Cox also recounted the moments leading up to the violence and recalled seeing more than one gunman.

“The mother said whoever had guns had to get out and they didn’t get out and five minutes later the shooting started,” she told the Advertiser. “I ran in front of a bullet and got shot. I didn’t know what was going on I just saw blood coming out of my arm.”

Ms Cox said she knew the deceased victims, identified by the Tallapoosa County Coroner’s Office as Philstavious “Phil” Dowdell, 18; Mersiah Collins, 19; Corbin Holston, 23; and KeKe Nicole Smith, 17.

“They meant a lot to me,” Ms Cox told the Advertiser. “I saw a group of girls dancing and that’s when the gunshots went off ... They told me to get out of the way, or I would get shot,” she said.

The Saturday night shooting took place at a birthday party for Dowdell’s sister at the Mahogany Masterpiece dance studio.

It is unclear who may have started the shooting and why, or whether investigators have made any arrests. Sgt Jeremy Burkett of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency asked the public to come forward with information on the shooting.

Taniya Cox (CBS screenshot )

Dowdell was a Dadeville High School student who planned to attend Jacksonville State University to play football.

Michael Taylor, an assistant coach, said he met Dowdell when the boy was 9 and coached him in youth football. Mr Taylor said the team was invited to Atlanta to play in the stadium used by the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons.

“He did some amazing things there, and he never stopped doing them since then,” he said. “He was the No. 1 athlete in the school.”

Taniya Cox, an 18-year-old who was shot twice in her right arm as she fled the party, joined hundreds of residents, community leaders and local politicians at a vigil on Sunday night (CBS screenshot )

Smith was also a Dadeville High senior who managed the basketball and track teams.

Amy Jackson, her cousin, remembered Smith as a “ray of sun” in the darkness and said that the teen was planning to attend the University of Alabama in the fall.

“She was her mom’s firstborn, a good sister to her siblings, she had a younger brother and sister that she took good care of,” Ms Jackson told The Independent. She had a smile that was contagious. If she smiled at you, you were gonna smile back at her.”

Corbin Holston, 23, did not attend the party but rushed to the scene to check on his nephew after he received a text.

“Out of concern for other family members, Corbin responded to the party to ensure their safety but unfortunately encountered the suspects,’’ Holston’s mother Janett Heard told

Holston, who graduated from Dadeville High School in 2018, pulled his relative to safety before he was fatally wounded.

“Corbin was selfless when it came to his family and friends and always tried to be a protector,’’ Ms Heard said. “That’s just the type of person he was.”

Top left clockwise: Dadeville shooting victims Phil Dowdell, KeKe Nicole Smith, Corbin Holster and Mersiah Collins (Facebook/Handout)

Marsiah Collins, the fourth fatal victim, graduated from Opelika High School in 2022 and was taking a gap year to focus on his music.

He was planning to move in with his father to Baton Rouge in the fall so he could attend Louisiana State University, reported.

“I don’t know what to say about this situation,” Mr Collins told “He messaged me on April 5 telling me he was ready to leave.”

Keenan Cooper, the DJ at the party, told WBMA-TV the party was stopped briefly when attendees heard someone had a gun. He said people with guns were asked to leave, but no one left. Cooper said when the shooting began some time later, some people took shelter under a table where he was standing, and others ran out.

The shooting sparked what Mayor Frank Goodman said was a “chaotic” scene at the town’s small hospital, where emergency workers, relatives and friends swarmed on Saturday. Some of the most severely injured people were taken to larger hospitals elsewhere in Alabama.

Dadeville, population 3,200, is tucked off a busy highway that runs from Birmingham to Auburn near Lake Martin, a popular recreational area.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in