Police ask partygoers for photos from deadly birthday shooting

Published 3:54 pm Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Two days after gunfire erupted at a Sweet 16 birthday party in Alabama — killing four people, including two high school seniors — state police are asking people to come forward if they have video or photographs from the party.

The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency said it has worked with the Federal Bureau of Investigation to establish a digital tip line for videos and photos. As of Tuesday morning, officials had released little information about the investigation.

“Special Agents are still in the process of gathering and examining information,” the law enforcement agency said in its last public statement, which was issued Monday. “Investigators are still processing all of the evidence, in conjunction with completing interviews, in an effort to solidify a motive and potential suspects.”

In addition to the four young people killed in the shooting, another 32 were injured. The dead range in age from 17 to 23.

The melee rocked the sleepy town of about 3,200 people. Families were planning funerals instead of graduation celebrations for the two high school seniors.

The mother of a 23-year-old man who was shot and killed at the party went there to check on a younger family member who had feared trouble, his mother, Janett Heard, told AL.com. Relatives told the news outlet that the shooting began shortly after Holston arrived, and that he pulled his younger relative to safety before Holston himself was shot.

Holston was a 2018 Dadeville High School graduate who had played football at the school.

Lawmakers held a moment of silence on the floor of the Alabama House of Representatives on Tuesday to remember those killed.

“It is a sad day for the state when something so senseless happens. Our hearts go out to the families and friends who lost loved ones in this attack and ask you to continue to pray for healing and recovery for the community,” state Rep. Ed Oliver of Dadeville said.

Members of the Legislative Black Caucus said it is time for the state to address gun violence. In 2020, Alabama had the fifth highest rate of gun deaths in the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Caucus members, who hold a minority of seats in the GOP-controlled Alabama Legislature, spoke at a funeral home owned by Smith’s grandfather.

“I am tired of hearing the wails and the cries of parents and families that have lost their loved ones, and elected officials have not acted,” state Democratic Sen. Merika Coleman said.