Teen Football Star Died Saving Sister's Life at Her Sweet 16 Party

Phil Dowdell was among the 4 killed in Alabama dance hall shooting
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 18, 2023 12:03 AM CDT
Teen Football Star Died Saving Sister's Life at Her Sweet 16 Party
This undated photo provided by the family of Phil Dowdell shows from left, Zaniriah Dowdell, Latonya Allen, Alexis Dowdell and Phil Dowdell.   (Family of Phil Dowdell via AP)

One of the final acts of the star football player killed at his sister's 16th birthday party in Alabama Saturday night was to save that sister's life. Phil Dowdell, 18, pushed his sister Alexis to the ground when shots rang out, she tells the BBC. They were then separated in the chaos and Alexis escaped. When she went back into the dance studio where the party had been taking place to find Phil, he'd been shot. "I got on my knees and he was laying face down. And that’s when I grabbed him. I turned him over, I was holding him," Alexis tells the AP. "I wasn’t crying at the moment because I was trying to be strong instead of panicking. And so I said, ‘You’re going to be all right. You’re a fighter, you’re strong." But his pulse had faded by the time paramedics arrived.

Shaunkivia Smith, 17, Marsiah Collins, 19, and Corbin Holston, 23, were also killed; 32 others were injured, some critically. The party's DJ tells WBMA-TV some of the party attendees heard someone there had a gun, and stopped the music briefly to ask anyone with weapons to leave, but no one did and the party continued. It wasn't long after that that gunfire erupted. Two of the victims, Dowdell and Smith, were weeks away from graduating high school. Collins had graduated last year and would have started college in the fall. Holston was also a former high school athlete. No one is yet in custody, and police are asking the public to come forward with any relevant information. (More Alabama stories.)

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