Three Alabama teens charged with murder in ‘Sweet 16’ party shooting

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Three Alabama teenagers have been taken into custody and charged with murder in last week’s shooting at a “Sweet 16” birthday party that left four dead and 32 wounded, state police said on Wednesday.

Two suspects - Ty Reik McCullough, 17, and Travis McCullough, 16 - both from Tuskegee, were arrested on Tuesday night and charged with four counts of reckless murder, Sergeant Jeremy Burkett of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency said during a news conference.

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The agency said a few hours later that a third person had been arrested. Wilson LaMar Hill Jr., 20, of Auburn, was taken into custody on Wednesday afternoon and charged with four counts of reckless murder, the agency said in a press release.

The shooting on Saturday took place at the Mahogany Masterpiece Dance Studio in Dadeville, a community of 3,200 people about 50 miles (80.5 km) northeast of Montgomery.

“Make no mistake. This is Alabama and when you pull out a gun and you start shooting people, we’re going to put you in jail,” Burkett said. “We’re tired of going to mothers and having to tell them these kids aren’t coming home.”

Of the nine injured who were still hospitalized, five were in critical condition, Heidi Smith, a spokesperson for Lake Martin Community Hospital, said at a news conference on Monday.

Three teenagers and a 23-year-old man were killed in the shooting. One was a high school football player who was among those attending his sister’s birthday party.

The Montgomery Advertiser newspaper, quoting the victim’s grandmother, identified the slain teenager as Phil Dowdell, whom she said was set to graduate in a matter of weeks and planned to attend Jacksonville State University on a football scholarship.

The other deceased victims were identified as Shaunkivia Smith, 17, Marsiah Collins, 19, and Corbin Holston, 23.

The shooting followed separate outbreaks of deadly gun violence in Tennessee and Kentucky that prompted local leaders to call for tighter gun control measures.

Mass shootings have become commonplace in the United States, with at least 165 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.

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