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Investigators Say 89 Rounds Were Fired From 7 Guns At Deadly Mass Shooting At 16th Birthday Party

Dadeville, AL – Police say nearly 90 rounds were fired from seven different weapons during the deadly mass shooting that took place during a girl’s 16th birthday party at a local dance studio earlier this month.

Two high school seniors and two adults were murdered and 32 more victims were injured during the April 15 attack, according to CBS News.

At least 15 of the surviving victims are teenagers, CNN reported.

Some remained critically injured.

Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) Sergeant Jeremy Burkett announced the arrests of three of the alleged gunmen on April 19, Reuters reported.

Brothers Travis McCullough, 16, and Tyreese “Ty Reik” McCullough, 17, were apprehended on the night of April 18, Sgt. Burkett confirmed.

Wilson LaMar Hill, 20, was arrested the following afternoon, Reuters reported.

Police apprehended two other suspects, 20-year-old Johnny Letron Brown and 19-year-old Willie George Brown on April 20, according to WAGA.

A sixth suspect, identified only as a 15-year-old male, was arrested later the same day.

They have all been charged with reckless murder, WAGA reported.

They were booked into the Tallapoosa County Jail, where they were all being held without bond with the exception of the 15-year-old suspect.

Tallapoosa County District Attorney Mike Segrest said all of the teen suspects who are 16 years of age or older will automatically be charged as adults in this case, which is required under Alabama law for offenders facing murder charges, WAGA reported.

It is unclear whether the 15-year-old will be charged as an adult.

The other five alleged gunmen appeared in court for a bail hearing on Tuesday morning, during which new details about the attack were released for the first time, WSFA reported.

ALEA Special Agent Jess Thornton, an 18-year law enforcement veteran, testified he’s never witnessed such carnage.

“Multiple shell casings. Blood everywhere,” Agent Thornton testified, according to BBC. “I’ve never seen anything of this magnitude.”

The agent said all six of the suspects are friends or relatives, NPR reported.

They had not been invited to the party, but had traveled over from Tuskegee and Auburn to attend it, Agent Thornton said.

Everyone but Willie Brown allegedly confessed to having been at the party and admitted to firing guns while there, WSFA reported.

Agent Thornton said Brown denied being involved, but his codefendants allegedly told police he had been there and that he had fired a weapon, according to NPR.

Agent Thornton testified that one of the defendants was out on bond for an earlier shooting and was wearing an ankle monitor at the time of the mass shooting in Dadeville, the Montgomery Advertiser reported.

The monitoring equipment allegedly placed him at the scene of the massacre.

Agent Thornton did not specifically name the defendant who was wearing the GPS device, the Montgomery Advertiser reported.

Investigators located 89 shell casings in four different calibers inside the dance studio, the agent said.

They included 9mm, .22-caliber, .40-caliber, and .45-caliber casings, according to the Montgomery Advertiser.

Agent Thornton noted that police believe seven different guns were used during the attack, but police only found two at the scene, WSFA reported.

According to Agent Thornton, one of the victims who died in the attack was found wearing a ski mask and had a gun resting on his chest.

He was identified as 23-year-old Corbin Dahmontry Holston, WSFA reported.

The investigator said the location of the weapon on the victim was odd.

“It was almost like it was placed there,” Agent Thornton testified, according to BBC.

The agent said investigators believe Holston might have been the first person to fire a gun during the incident, WSFA reported.

The second gun recovered at the scene was found tucked into 19-year-old Marsiah Emmanuel Collins’ pocket, but that gun had not been fired, Agent Thornton said.

He said at least one of the guns involved in the attack had been modified for rapid fire, according to NPR.

The guns Johnny Brown and Hill allegedly used in the mass shooting have also been tied to prior shootings in Tallassee and Auburn, WSFA reported.

Investigators have not released a motive in the massacre at the Sweet 16 party.

As many as 60 people were in attendance at the Mahogany Masterpiece dance studio located in the 200-block of Broadnax Street when the shooting erupted at about 10:30 p.m. on April 15, according to WBLA.

The room where the shooting occurred is just 26 feet long and 38 feet wide, the Montgomery Advertiser reported.

Keenan Cooper, who was working as a DJ at the gathering, said someone mentioned at one point that “someone had a gun,” so the party was halted and a request was made for anyone with a firearm to leave the premises, WBLA reported.

“Nobody left and the party continued,” he said.

About an hour later, someone opened fire inside the venue and gunned down dozens of partygoers.

Cooper said several kids hid underneath his table.

“I had a lot of people under the table and beside me trying to protect them,” he told WBLA. “After everybody ran out, I made sure they were ok and that’s when I came out and the police arrived.”

The DJ said it was dark inside the building, so no one saw the attack coming.

Four victims were murdered in the mass shooting.

The Tallapoosa County Coroner identified them as 17-year-old Shaunkivia Nicole Smith, 18-year-old Philstavious Dowdell, 19-year-old Marsiah Emmanuel Collins, and 23-year-old Corbin Dahmontry Holston, WBLA reported.

Dowdell was the brother of the girl whose 16th birthday was being celebrated, according to CNN.

He and Smith were both seniors at Dadeville High School and were anxiously awaiting their upcoming graduation, CNN reported.

Smith was planning to attend the University of Alabama.

Dowdell, a star football player, had earned a scholarship to play for Jacksonville State University, CNN reported.

His sister, Alexis Dowdell, said her brother saved her life by pushing her to the ground when the gunfire erupted, CBS News reported.

Their mother, Latonya Allen, said she saw Alexis trying to help him after he was mortally wounded.

“Alexis, she got down on her knees and was holding him,” Allen told CBS News. “He was just bloody. She was saying, kept telling him, ‘Wake up, Phil.’”

Allen was among those wounded in the attack, CBS News reported.

“It was chaotic,” Dadeville Mayor Frank Goodman said of the scene at Lake Martin Community Hospital, according to the Associated Press. “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.”

The ALEA State Bureau of Investigation is handling the ongoing investigation with the assistance of the Tallapoosa County Sheriff’s office, the Dadeville Police Department, the 5th Circuit District Attorney’s Office, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, WBLA reported.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

View all articles
Written by Holly Matkin


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