Authorities investigating the weekend shooting that killed four people and left dozens of others injured at a teen’s birthday party in Dadeville, Alabama, are expected to hold a news conference Wednesday about the case that’s left the small community grappling with grief and confusion for days.
Details about what will be covered in the news conference, scheduled for 10 a.m. CT, weren’t immediately available. It will come four days after Saturday night’s attack, in which authorities have yet to name any suspects or provide a possible motive.
The party, held at a downtown venue in celebration of Alexis Dowdell’s 16th birthday, was in full swing when gunfire erupted there, witnesses said. Her 18-year-old brother, Philstavious Dowdell, was killed, as were Marsiah Emmanuel Collins, 19; Shaunkivia “Keke” Nicole Smith, 17; and Corbin Dahmontrey Holston, 23, the Tallapoosa County coroner said.
Thirty-two other people were injured, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency has said, without specifying their ages or whether they all were shot.
The FBI, US marshals, a prosecutor’s office and local police will be among those joining the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency at Wednesday’s news conference, the state agency said.
Investigators have been following up on “strong leads” in the shooting, Dadeville Police Chief Jonathan Floyd told CNN earlier this week.
As of Monday, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency still was processing evidence and interviewing witnesses, it said.
Several shell casings used in handguns were collected at the scene, the agency said. No high-powered rifle ammunition was recovered, it added.
After days without significant answers from authorities, Alexis and Phil’s mother, LaTonya Allen – who was shot twice in the attack – has been anxiously awaiting news.
“I just want justice for my baby and all the other kids that were involved,” Allen told CNN on Monday. She later added, “They took away a piece of my heart, and I know the other mothers and fathers feel the same way.”
The attack was one of more than 160 mass shootings that have taken place so far this year in the US, according to the Gun Violence Archive. Like CNN, the nonprofit defines mass shootings as those in which four or more people are shot, excluding the shooter.
Alexis had been planning her party for months, she told CNN, and began feeling “butterflies in my stomach” the day of the party.
When she went to sit on her brother’s bed to tell him she was nervous, Alexis said, he assured her that he would make sure she had fun.
Just hours later, Alexis and her friends were enjoying the music of the party’s DJ when gunfire erupted inside the venue, she said. Neither she or her mother recall hearing an altercation before the shooting.
“All I remember is my brother grabbing me and pushing me down to the ground,” where she fell into a puddle of blood, she said.
After Alexis and her mother ran from the building, they returned to see the bodies of the injured and dying scattered across the dimly lit dance floor, they said. As the room’s lights were flicked on, the family was horrified to see Phil’s body soaked in blood.
The teen recalls running to Phil and pleading with him to stay alive. “He was trying to say something to her,” Allen said.
“You’re going to make it. You’re strong,” Alexis told her 18-year-old brother as his consciousness wavered. She begged: “Don’t give up on me.”
By the time first responders arrived on the scene, Phil was dead, Alexis said.
“It’s a nightmare that I don’t wish on any parent – to go in and to see my baby laying there in a pile of blood,” Allen said. “That was the worst thing that I could experience in my life.”
Earlier in the evening, Allen said she heard a rumor that someone in the party may have been armed. She said she made a stern announcement over the speaker: “If anyone in here has a gun, then you need to leave because we’re here to celebrate Alexis’ Sweet 16.”
She and other chaperones scoured the crowd for anyone carrying a firearm, but didn’t see one, the mother said.