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Four dead in Alabama teen birthday party shooting

#dead #Alabama #teen #birthday #party #shooting

At least four people were killed and several injured in a Saturday night shooting at a teen birthday party in Alabama, in the latest deadly spasm of American gun violence.

Local news reports said the shooting occurred at a Sweet 16 party at a dance studio in Dadeville, a small town northeast of the state capital Montgomery, with at least 20 people shot.

“There were four lives tragically lost in this incident, and there’s been a multitude of injuries,” Sergeant Jeremy Burkett, a spokesman for the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA), told reporters Sunday.

Annette Allen told the Montgomery Advertiser that her grandson Phil Dowdell was among those who died: he had been celebrating his sister Alexis’s 16th birthday when gunfire ripped through the party.

“He was a very, very humble child. Never messed with anybody. Always had a smile on his face,” Allen said of her grandson, a high school senior due to graduate within weeks. She said Dowdell’s mother was also shot and wounded.

“Everybody’s grieving,” Allen said of the small community of some 3,000 residents.

More than 12 hours after the tragedy, neither Burkett nor other law enforcement officials provided any details on who may have perpetrated the shooting and why, whether a suspect has been detained or identified, or specifically how many people were injured and what their ages are.

“We can’t share anything further at this time,” the sergeant said, adding only that “it was tied to a birthday party.”

Local media and witnesses have said several wounded people, many of them teens, were transported to local hospitals for medical attention.

Dadeville Chief of Police Jonathan Floyd called the town “a tight-knit community full of wonderful people.”

ALEA said its State Bureau of Investigations has launched a probe together with Dadeville police and federal agencies including the FBI.

Television station WRBL of nearby Columbus, Georgia reported heavy police activity overnight and crime scene tape around a building in Dadeville, where it said white sheets could be seen covering parts of the floor.

– ‘Heartbreaking’ –

State leaders took to Twitter Sunday offering prayers and decrying violence but they did not provide details on what happened.

“This morning, I grieve with the people of Dadeville and my fellow Alabamians,” state Governor Kay Ivey posted. “Violent crime has NO place in our state, and we are staying closely updated by law enforcement as details emerge.”

US Senator Tommy Tuberville of Alabama, called the shooting “heartbreaking.”

The United States, a country of around 330 million people, is awash with some 400 million guns, and deadly mass shootings are a regular occurrence.

The latest deaths came on the 16th anniversary of the deadliest school shooting on record in the United States, in which 32 people were killed at Virginia Tech in 2007.

Separately, police confirmed two people were killed and four others wounded in a shooting late Saturday at a crowded park in Louisville, Kentucky, the same city where a bank employee slaughtered five people at his workplace last Monday.

There have been 163 mass shootings in the United States so far in 2023, according to the Gun Violence Archive. The non-profit group defines a mass shooting as having a minimum of four victims shot, either injured or killed, excluding any shooter.

Efforts to tighten gun controls have for years run up against opposition from Republicans, staunch defenders of the constitutional right to bear arms. 

The political paralysis endures despite widespread outrage over recurring shootings.

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