Dadeville, AL: Shooter believed at large after 4 killed, 28 wounded in birthday party shooting – National & International News – MON 17Apr2023



Dadeville, AL: Shooter at large after 4 killed, 28 wounded in birthday party shooting.

Kansas City, MO: Black teen shot after going to wrong house to pick up his brothers.

Sudan: Nearly 200 civilians killed as rival armies face off in “fight to the death”



Dadeville, AL: Shooter at large after 4 killed, 28 wounded in birthday party shooting

On Saturday evening in Dadeville, AL, (a majority-Black town of about 3,200 people 60 miles from Montgomery) a Sweet 16 birthday party was being held at a dance studio. The place was packed, according to Keenan Cooper, who was DJing at the party. The venue had chaperones and security and at least three parents were present.

Cooper said the party paused at one point when attendees learned someone had a gun. He said people with guns were asked to leave, but no one left. Another report said a person with a gun was turned away. About an hour later, shots rang out. Cooper grabbed about 5 teenagers and had them hit the floor. 

The shooting killed four people and injured 28, some of them critically. Reports state that aside from the victim, 15 teens were shot. This may suggest the remaining 13 injuries might have been sustained in the panic as people tried to flee the crowded hall.

Victims mourned

Today, police identified the victims as Shaunkivia “Keke” Smith, 17, Marsiah Collins, 19, Corbin Holston, 23, and Philstavious “Phil” Dowdell, 18.

Keke Smith was described as “always smiling” and was a student athletic manager at her school. She looked forward to attending the University of Alabama. Her cousin Amy Jackson said Smith was “a good sister to her siblings. She had a younger brother and sister that she took good care of”. Jackson said Keke’s smile was contagious. “If she smiled at you, you were gonna smile back at her.”

Marsiah Collins, 19, was an aspiring rap artist and graduate of nearby Opelika High School. He was to move to Baton Rouge, LA, in the fall to attend Louisiana State University. 

Corbin Holston was not attending the party. He rushed to the scene to check on his nephew after receiving a text. Holston’s mother Janett Heard said “Out of concern for other family members, Corbin responded to the party to ensure their safety but unfortunately encountered the suspects’’. Corbin managed to get his nephew to safety before he was fatally wounded.

Dowdell was due to graduate in just a few weeks and had a football scholarship to Jacksonville State University. He was the older brother of the birthday girl. Their mother was also wounded but survives.

According to Michael Taylor, athletics coach at Dadeville High School, Dowdell hoped to make it to the NFL and take care of his mother. Taylor said just weeks before the tragedy, Dowdell made a poignant request of him: “If anything ever happened to me, even when I go to college, take care of my two sisters”. 

Police believe shooter at large, request information from public

Police have released very little information about the perpetrator. While they insist there is no present danger to the community, police have not said if the suspect was among the dead or if they are still at large. No suspect has been identified.

Dadeville Police Chief Jonathan Floyd says they have “solid leads” but need help from the public. The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) is now leading the investigation due to DPD’s size and resources. ALEA has urged attendees at the party with information, including photos or video, to come forward. “I cannot stress this enough: We absolutely need you to share it,” Sgt. Jeremy J. Burkett of ALEA said.

Confusingly, DJ Keenan Cooper said it sounded like multiple shooters at the scene. Given the lack of information from police, this can’t be ruled out. But within a crowded enclosed space, the report of a gun can bounce off walls and make it difficult to determine where the shot is coming from.

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Black teen shot after going to wrong house to pick up his brothers

Last Thursday in Kansas City, MO, 16-year-old Ralph Pual Yarl, who is Black, went to pick up his younger twin brothers from a playdate. Instead of going to the address he was given on NE 115th Terrace, Ralph mistakenly went to an address on 115th Street and rang the doorbell.

The homeowner, reportedly a white man, opened the door and shot young Ralph in the head, according to his aunt Faith Spoonmore. Spoonmore says the homeowner then shot Ralph again when after he’d fallen to the ground. Ralph, severely injured, managed to get up and run. He went to three houses before someone opened the door to him and helped him. Spoonmore said the teen was “told to lie on the ground with his hands up”.

Ralph Yarl, 16, with his base clarinet.

Ralph is alive in the hospital but little is known about his prospects for recovery. Police described his injuries as life-threatening, but say he is stable. Attorneys for Yarl’s family Lee Merritt and Ben Crump, the famed civil rights attorney, say that Ralph is “alive and recovering” despite severe injuries to his head and arm.

Spoonmore described her nephew as a “fantastic kid”. A talented musician, Ralph plays multiple instruments and is “one of the top base clarinet players in Missouri” according to Spoonmore. Ralph is a member of his school’s jazz and competition bands and a section leader in the school’s marching band. He also has aspirations to attend Texas A&M in Austin to study chemical engineering and is a member of several science clubs.

Spoonmore has started a GoFundMe for Ralph. As of this writing, it has received more than $1.7 million from over 44,000 donors. Spoonmore’s statements about her nephew and the shooting were gleaned from this GoFundMe page.

Anger over shooter’s release

Police claim they do not have information to suggest the shooting was racially motivated, but they are still investigating. The shooter, whose name hasn’t been released, was taken into police custody on Thursday but released the next day. 

By Missouri law, police can’t hold a suspect more than 24 hours without charges. In a statement, KCMO Police Chief Stacey Graves addressed anger in the community over the shooter’s release. “We recognize the frustration this can cause,” Graves said. “I want everyone to know that I am listening, and I understand the concern we are receiving from the community”.

Mayor Quinton Lucas said the theory that the shooting was racially motivated has not “been dismissed, marginalized or diminished in any way. This is something that is getting the full attention of the Kansas City Police Department”.

Investigators must also consider whether the shooter can claim justification under Missouri’s Stand Your Ground law. These laws allow for the use of deadly force in self-defense and state that an armed person has no duty to retreat from a perceived threat. 

On Sunday, demonstrators gathered peacefully near the address where the shooting occurred, carrying signs like “Ringing a doorbell is not a crime”. Attorney Crump has also criticized the release of the white suspect. “There can be no excuse for the release of this armed and dangerous suspect after admitting to shooting an unarmed, non-threatening and defenseless teenager that rang his doorbell!” Crump said.

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Faith Spoonmore’s GoFundMe for her nephew Ralph Yarl (opens in new tab).



Sudan: Nearly 200 civilians killed as rival armies face off in “fight to the death”

For the last three days, the Sudanese capital of Khartoum, home to over 5 million people, has been a battleground for two rival armies. According to a UN envoy, at least 180 civilians have killed and hundreds more are injured. Life has ground to a halt in the once bustling city. Shortages of food and medical supplies have been reported.

Two generals are vying for control of the resource-rich country, Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, commander of the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF), and Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, head of the paramilitary group Rapid Support Forces (RSF). The SAF and RSF were once uneasy allies. In 2019, the SAF and RSF joined forces to oust the dictator Omar al-Bashir. The RSF was once loyal to Bashir, the architect of the infamous Darfur genocide.

After Bashir’s ouster following decades of Islamist military rule, the country was put on a path back to civilian leadership. That path was cut short in October 2021 when Burhan captured the civilian government, then led by technocrat Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok. Following a popular outcry, Burhan released Hamdok and entered into a power-sharing agreement with him that heavily favored military rule. This agreement proved extremely unpopular and Hamdok resigned completely just a few months later in January 2022.

With Burhan now de facto leader, international organizations such as the UN, African Union and Arab League attempted to broker an agreement to transition Sudan back to civilian rule. But in recent weeks, tensions arose between Burhan and Gen. Dagalo, who was now his deputy.

Both sides are heavily armed and have refused all entreaties from the international community to call a ceasefire. 

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