Alabama authorities have yet to disclose a motive for the mass shooting at a Sweet 16 party that has left the small town of Dadeville reeling after a third suspect was arrested Wednesday.
At approximately 2:30 p.m., Wednesday, special agents with the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency’s (ALEA) State Bureau of Investigation, made a third arrest in connection to the gunfire that erupted Saturday night at the Mahogany Masterpiece dance studio that left four dead and another 32 people injured.
Wilson LaMar Hill Jr., 20, of Auburn, was arrested and formally charged with four counts of reckless murder, ALEA said. At a press conference earlier in the day, ALEA announced that two brothers, Tyreese “Ty Reik” McCullough, 17, and Travis McCullough, 16, both of Tuskegee, had been arrested Tuesday night and both charged with four counts of reckless murders as well.
District Attorney Mike Segrest told reporters the pair would be charged as adults and that prosecutors would ask a judge to hold them without bail. A bond hearing must be held by Friday under Alabama law. He said four people remained in the hospital in critical condition and that more charges would be coming.
The prosecutor also shared the heartbreaking account of how the birthday girl, Alexis Dowdell, held her brother as he took his last breath at her own party Saturday night.
Philstavious “Phil” Dowdell, a star wide receiver with plans to play college football at Jacksonville State this fall, was killed, as were fellow Dadeville High senior Shaunkivia Nicole “KeKe” Smith, 17, an athlete-turned-team manager; 2022 Opelika High School graduate Marsiah Emmanuel “Siah” Collins, 19, an aspiring singer who planned to start college this fall; and 2018 Dadeville High graduate Corbin Dahmontrey Holston, 23, another former athlete at the school.
“It was Lexi’s 16th birthday party. A Sweet 16. There’s an uncut cake and unburnt 16 candles that never got lit. Lexi’s brother is one of the victims,” Segrest said Wednesday. “On her 16th birthday party, she kneeled by her brother as he took his last breath. That’s what we’re dealing with. The message that I want to send is I know some of these victims personally. Some of these kids are kids of friends of mine, people that I went to school with, people that I played ball with and against in the community back in high school. And these are my kids.”
“These are our kids. Don’t mess with our kids. Do not mess with our kids,” the district attorney added.
WIAT CBS 42 reported that Moms Demand Action is now advocating for stricter gun laws after the Dadeville shooting. Additionally, a local attorney told the outlet that authorities are most likely monitoring what happens with the four surviving victims, who remain hospitalized in critical condition, before announcing additional charges.
“They’re being very, very careful to make sure they don’t give anything that will help this 16- and 17-year-old get off on these charges,” Attorney Eric Guster, who is not directly involved in the case, said of law enforcement’s tight-lipped approach so far. “They want to make sure [the suspects] get a fair trial and make sure the victims get a fair trial as well.”
“You have multiple people who are injured, those would be assaults, attempted murders, those types of charges will be charged against them. So those charges will be piled on with them as well,” Guster said. “What they’re doing right now is waiting to make sure that no other victims pass away. They want to see what the injuries were.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.