Latonia Allen was supervising her daughter’s sweet 16 party at a small dance studio in Dadeville, Alabama, when rumors spread that someone had a gun. Allen temporarily shuts down the party, turns on the lights, and tells anyone over 18 and a gun to leave.
After that night, The unthinkable happened.
Phil Dowdell, Allen’s 18-year-old son and Alexis Dowdell’s brother, was killed in the shooting.
The high school senior and football star is set to graduate next month. He was going to play football for Jacksonville State.
“(Alexis Dowdell) dropped to her knees and we were holding her. She was just bloody,” Allen told CBS News. “He was saying, you know, telling him, ‘Wake up, Phil, wake up.’ He was trying to say something, but by then he couldn’t say anything else. And he stopped breathing.”
Alexis Dowdell said her brother was “going into” consciousness.
“And then when somebody from the ambulance came and they felt his pulse and they were like, ‘He’s gone.’ And then I was just like, ‘Please don’t tell me that,'” she recalls.
Alexis said her older brother’s final act was to grab her by the waist and push her down, shielding her from the gunfire.
“If it wasn’t for him, I mean, I don’t know where I’d be,” she said. “I don’t know if I’d be standing here today if he hadn’t saved my life.”
Another high school senior, 17-year-old Shaunkivia Smith, was killed along with 19-year-old Masseria Collins and 23-year-old Corbin Holston, who reportedly did not attend the party, but went to take an exam. The youngest member of the family.
A vigil was held for the victims on Sunday night. One participant, Daquan Doss, had known Phil Dowdell since kindergarten.
“I was standing right next to him,” a visibly shaken Doss told CBS News. “The next thing I know, they’re shooting at him. I think he went right into it. I went the other way. I wish I could have pulled him into my path.”
At least 32 people were injured in the shooting, Alabama law enforcement agencies said in a news release Monday afternoon, which added that investigators are “still processing all evidence … in an effort to solidify a motive and possible suspect.”