Dadeville residents reflect on Saturday’s mass shooting

Published: Apr. 18, 2023 at 12:31 AM CDT
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DADEVILLE, Ala. (WBRC) - The Dadeville community is struggling. Everyone wants answers and right now there are so few.

As of Monday, 32 people are reported injured and 4 are dead. Still, community members want to know more. What kind of evil would possess someone to hurt so many people?

Mayor Jimmy Frank Goodman is asking for patience. He says they are trying to find answers, and knows the wait is frustrating.

“I wished I did know something so we could ease the citizens mind, but we don’t. We don’t know anything,” said Mayor Goodman.

The mayor says he knows a few of the families impacted personally and that he has been in touch, but the city is working to get in touch with others to show they are there for them.

The fact that this occurred less than a football field away is just making it that much more frustrating for Mayor Goodman.

“No words to describe how it has been. It’s shock, that is what it has been and we are still in shock. It is just unbelievable. It doesn’t happen in a small town. You read about it or see it on television, but we are just in shock,” said Goodman.

One of the four who lost their life was a star on the football field. Phil Dowdell was a senior on the Dadeville football team and he was committed to play for Jacksonville State University as a wide receiver.

Team chaplain and community leader Ben Hayes stresses the loss of Dowdell and three others will not be easy for the community to overcome.

“Phil was amazing in so many ways. When he walked into a room, he brightened it up. Part of that was because of his smile, part of it was because of his personality but Phil was an amazing competitor. You didn’t want to hit him on the field and you didn’t want to get hit by him,” said First Baptist Church Pastor Ben Hayes. “When you got off the field he was the nicest guy you’d ever want to meet. He was respected by his friends, respected by his teachers and loved by everybody.”

One concerned community stressed that these malicious crimes are only occurring more, and that more must be done to protect the younger generations.

“All these years coming through this city I have never seen even a fight here. You’ll see the police every now and again has someone pulled over, but it is just a peaceful and quiet town. So if this can happen here, this mass shooting, it is like it is on tour. It is just a matter of time before it comes to a city near you,” said James Romeo Ryan.

Pastor Ryan tells me that due to his position, he often times has to break the news that someone’s loved one has moved on, but that didn’t make the screams he heard on Saturday night any easier to process.

“I don’t know if I will ever forget Saturday night and Sunday morning because of the overall sense of everything that was going on, but my prayer is that what will stand out to me more than anything is our people coming around each other.”

Church leaders in the community are now working to help in that mission.

“One of the things we are trying to do now is help out with the financial needs. So we have set up a GoFundMe page where we hope folks will reach out and share in this financial burden because momma’s and daddy’s typically don’t buy life insurance for their kids.”

Pastor Ben Hayes says these families are burdened with medical costs and burial costs. Things they are not equipped to deal with, and he hopes the community and you bless these families as they try and heal.

To donate towards relief efforts, you can click here.

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