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What we know about the Dadeville, Alabama, mass shooting

Two teens have been charged in the mass shooting at a Sweet 16 party that left four dead and dozens injured.

Mourners attend a vigil at the First Baptist Church of Dadeville following the mass shooting at the Mahogany Masterpiece dance studio on April 16, 2023 in Dadeville, Alabama. 
Megan Varner/Getty Images
Nicole Narea covers politics and society for Vox. She first joined Vox in 2019, and her work has also appeared in Politico, Washington Monthly, and the New Republic.

Two teens were charged Wednesday with reckless murder in the mass shooting at a 16th birthday party in Dadeville, Alabama. The Saturday night shooting left four dead and 32 others injured.

The teens, 17-year-old Ty Reik McCullough and 16-year-old Travis McCullough, will be tried as adults. In a press conference Wednesday, authorities did not elaborate on their motives or provide any new details as to what happened. Under Alabama law, “reckless murder” involves “extreme indifference to human life” and a suspect that “recklessly engages in conduct which creates a grave risk of death” to another.

Mike Segrest, district attorney for the Fifth Judicial Circuit of Alabama, said at the press conference that there were be additional charges to come in relation to those who were injured, including four that remain in critical condition.

The shooting, which reportedly occurred at a dance studio, marks the highest number of injuries of any mass shooting this year so far, according to data from the Gun Violence Archive. It follows other recent mass shootings at a bank in Louisville, Kentucky, and at Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee.

The Tallapoosa County coroner’s office has identified the four people, ages 17 to 23, who were killed: Philstavious Dowdell, a Dadeville High School football player and brother of the birthday girl; KeKe Nicole Smith, a volleyball player and team manager for the high school’s track team; Corbin Dahmontrey Holston; and Marsiah Emmanuel Collins. At least 15 teenagers are reportedly being treated for gunshot wounds.

The investigation is being led by the Alabama State Bureau of Investigation. Authorities at the press conference repeated their request that the public share any information they have about what happened that night.

Keenan Cooper, the party’s DJ that night, told ABC News that when it became apparent that someone had a gun, “they stopped the party for a second, asked them to leave, nobody left. The party continued. An hour later, that’s when all the shots went off.”

In response to the shooting, President Joe Biden reiterated his calls for Congress to enact laws requiring safe storage of firearms and universal background checks, banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and eliminating gun manufacturers’ immunity from liability.

He also commended Tennessee Republican Gov. Bill Lee’s recent executive order to expand background checks in the state, which has among the laxest gun regulations in the country, and Lee’s push for a red flag law, under which individuals who pose a risk to themselves or others can be temporarily barred from possessing firearms.

“What has our nation come to when children cannot attend a birthday party without fear?” Biden said in a statement. “This is outrageous and unacceptable.”

Republican Gov. Kay Ivey said on Twitter Sunday morning that her office was tracking developments on the shooting.

“This morning, I grieve with the people of Dadeville and my fellow Alabamians,” she said. “Violent crime has NO place in our state, and we are staying closely updated by law enforcement as details emerge.”

What are Alabama’s gun laws?

Alabama has the fifth-highest rate of firearm mortality nationwide, with 23.6 per 100,000 people dying at the end of a gun in 2020, according the most recent available data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The state also has the 10th-highest number of registered guns in circulation, and studies have found a link between gun ownership and gun deaths.

Earlier this year, Alabama became one of 26 states with permitless carry laws. Anyone over the age of 18 can carry a firearm in public without a permit in Alabama, and they do not need a background check, safety training, or to face a waiting period in order to buy a gun.

In January, Alabama also enacted a state firearms prohibited person database to which municipal, probate, district, and circuit courts can report convictions and orders that impact an individual’s ability to possess a firearm. It’s not clear whether the Dadeville shooter would have been flagged under that system.

Update, April 19, 2 pm ET: This story was originally published on April 17 and has been updated with information on the new charges in the case.

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