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High school football player among 4 killed in Alabama birthday party shooting

2023-04-16T21:39:06Z

At least four people were killed, including a high school football player, in a shooting that erupted during a birthday party held inside a dance studio in the small town of Dadeville, Alabama, state police and local news media said on Sunday.

A local television station reported on Sunday that more than 20 people had been injured in the shooting, about 60 miles (100 km) northeast of the state capital of Montgomery, citing investigators on the scene.

Authorities said the shooting started shortly after 10:30 p.m. CT on Saturday but declined to answer questions or provide further details during a Sunday news conference.

“We’re going to continue to work in a very methodical way to go through this scene, to look at the facts, and ensure that justice is brought to bear for the families,” said Jeremy Burkett, a sergeant with the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency.

The Montgomery Advertiser newspaper reported that one of the four people slain during the violence was a high school football player who was among those attending his sister’s “Sweet 16” birthday celebration when a gunman opened fire. Reuters could not independently confirm the information or learn the identities of the other three victims.

The party was being held inside the Mahogany Masterpiece Dance Studio, converted from an old bank building located about half a block from city hall in Dadeville, a town of about 3,000 residents.

Officials provided no information about what led to the shooting or whether any suspect had been killed or arrested, but Burkett said there was no longer any threat to the community.

“What has our nation come to when children cannot attend a birthday party without fear?” President Joe Biden said in a statement on Sunday.

Biden called the rising gun violence in the U.S. “outrageous and unacceptable,” and urged Congress to pass laws that would make firearms manufacturers more liable for gun violence, ban assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines, and require safe storage of firearms and background checks for gun sales.

Tallapoosa County Schools Superintendent Raymond Porter said at the news conference that counseling would be provided at area schools on Monday, and asked local clergy to help families through the situation.

“We will make every effort to comfort those children and don’t lose sight of the fact that those are the ones most impacted by this situation,” Porter said.

The FBI, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and investigators from the local prosecutor’s office also responded to the scene, according to a release from the state law enforcement agency.

The shooting occurred within weeks of two high-profile deadly mass shootings in the nearby states of Tennessee and Kentucky, which prompted local leaders to call for tighter gun control measures.

Meanwhile, Republicans vying for their party’s 2024 presidential nomination and other prominent party members sought to cast themselves as unwaveringly supportive of gun rights without restrictions in Indiana this weekend at the annual conference of the National Rifle Association (NRA), the country’s largest gun lobby.

A bank employee last week shot dead five colleagues and wounded nine other people at his workplace in Louisville, Kentucky. On March 27, three 9-year-olds and three staff members were killed at a private Christian school in Nashville, Tennessee, by a former student.

Mass shootings have become commonplace in the U.S., with more than 163 so far in 2023, the most at this point in the year since at least 2016, according to the Gun Violence Archive. The nonprofit group defines a mass shooting as any in which four or more people are wounded or killed, not including the shooter.

Related Galleries:

The Jacobs family prays during a vigil the day after a shooting during a teenager’s birthday party at Mahogany Masterpiece Dance Studio in Dadeville, Alabama, U.S. April 16, 2023. REUTERS/Cheney Orr

Adriana Pearson embraces her daughter Skyla during a vigil the day after a shooting during a teenager’s birthday party at Mahogany Masterpiece Dance Studio in Dadeville, Alabama, U.S. April 16, 2023. REUTERS/Cheney Orr

Blood is seen on the doorframe of Mahogany Masterpiece Dance Studio, a day after a shooting at a teenager’s birthday party in the dance studio in Dadeville, Alabama, U.S., April 16, 2023. REUTERS/Cheney Orr

Blood is seen on the doorframe of Mahogany Masterpiece Dance Studio, a day after a shooting at a teenager’s birthday party in the dance studio in Dadeville, Alabama, U.S., April 16, 2023. REUTERS/Cheney Orr

Law enforcement officers walk through the crime scene, a day after a shooting at a teenager’s birthday party in a dance studio, in Dadeville, Alabama, U.S., April 16, 2023. REUTERS/Cheney Orr

Community members and media stand near the crime scene, a day after a shooting at a teenager’s birthday party in a dance studio, in Dadeville, Alabama, U.S., April 16, 2023. REUTERS/Cheney Orr

A man lowers the U.S. and Alabama flags to half mast, a day after a shooting at a teenager’s birthday party in a dance studio, in Dadeville, Alabama, U.S., April 16, 2023. REUTERS/Cheney Orr

A law enforcement officer goes under a piece of crime scene tape, a day after a shooting at a teenager’s birthday party in a dance studio in Dadeville, Alabama, U.S., April 16, 2023. REUTERS/Cheney Orr