BY Francis Akhalbey, 9:30am April 17, 2023,

Alabama: High school football star and honor student fatally shot at sister’s 16th birthday party

Phil Dowdell was fatally shot at his sister's 16th birthday party -- Photo via Facebook

Phil Dowdell, a promising high school athlete and honor student recently committed to playing football at Jacksonville State University, but his life was tragically cut short after he was shot and killed at his sister’s 16th birthday party on Saturday.

According to AL.com, Dowdell was a student at Dadeville High. A coach at the school, Michael Taylor, told the news outlet that the deceased athlete and student was among the standout players in Alabama.

“He was the No. 1 athlete in the school,’’ the coach said. “The first thing we’ve got to do is we’ve got to pray our way out of this,” Taylor said. “There ain’t no other way. … They’re all real close, like family, at the high school.”

Ben Hayes, a pastor and chaplain for the Dadeville Police Department and the high school football team, said the fatal incident happened in the wake of an argument at the party, adding that the person who opened fire is no longer a threat to the community, per the Montgomery Advertiser.

“He was a very, very humble child. Never messed with anybody. Always had a smile on his face,” Dowdell’s grandmother, Annette Allen, said.

Besides Dowdell, three other people were also fatally shot while almost 30 people sustained injuries – with Allen adding that Dowdell’s mother was also shot.  

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Philstavious Dowdell and the other victims of the senseless tragedy last night,” Jacksonville State University head football coach Rich Rodriguez shared in a post on Twitter. 

“He was a great young man with a bright future,” Rodriguez added. “My staff and I are heartbroken and hope that everyone will support his family through this difficult time.” 

Outside football, Taylor said Dowdell was also an exceptional track athlete and basketball player. “It’s a small town. We don’t have too many crimes like this at all. So it’s shocking, very shocking,” said Taylor.

Following the shooting, several parents of the partygoers reportedly combed through hospitals to look for their children, they had no idea of their whereabouts. “It was chaotic,” Dadeville Mayor, Frank Goodman, said. “There were people running around. They were crying and screaming. There were police cars everywhere, there were ambulances everywhere. People were trying to find out about their loved ones.

“That was a scene where we never had anything like this happen in our city before.”

Last Edited by:Annie-Flora Mills Updated: April 17, 2023

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