Philstavious ‘Phil’ Dowdell: Student football star among victims of Alabama party shooting

Police are still investigating the motive for the shooting

Josh Marcus
San Francisco
Tuesday 18 April 2023 12:37 BST
Four killed, several injured after shooting at birthday party in Alabama

Philstavious “Phil” Dowdell, an honours student on his way to play Division 1 college football, was among the victims of a mass shooting at a party in Alabama on Saturday that left four dead, according to a local pastor.

“It was a very sad, sad scene,” Ben Hayes, senior pastor at Dadeville First Baptist Church and team chaplain of Dadeville High School, where Dowdell played multiple sports, told “A very rough night.”

The party where the shooting took place was reportedly a birthday celebration for Dowdell’s sister, according to the website.

The teen, one of the best football players in the state, had recently committed to playing at Jacksonville State University. He was also an accomplished track runner and basketball player.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Philstavious Dowdell and the other victims of the senseless tragedy last night,” Jacksonville head football coach Rich Rodriguez said in a statement. “He was a great young man with a bright future. My staff and I are heartbroken and hope that everyone will support his family through this difficult time.”

Dowdell’s social media page was filled mainly with sports highlights, including a February post announcing his football plans with the caption, “Let’s work.”

The three others who were reportedly killed in the shooting have not been named thus far.

The violence began when gunfire broke out on Saturday around 10.30pm at the Sweet 16 party in Dadeville, hosted at a local dance studio.

During a news conference on Sunday, local law enforcement did not disclose any information about who fired on the group of youth or why.

“This is going to be a long, complicated process,” Sgt Jeremy Burkett of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency said at the conference of the ongoing investigation into the incident.

Joining the state police in the investigation is the Dadeville Police Department, as well as the Tallapoosa County Sheriff’s Office, FBI, and federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, The New York Times reports.

Dadeville is a small town of about 3,000 people, roughly 60 miles northeast of Montgomery, Alabama.

The shooting at the party follows a string of high-profile gun violence incidents in the South including in Nashville, Tennessee, and Louisville, Kentucky.

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