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At least 4 people were killed in a shooting at a teen's birthday party in Alabama


Authorities in Alabama say at least four people are dead and multiple others injured following a shooting late last night at a sweet 16 birthday party. A local hospital official in Dadeville, Ala., says they treated at least 15 shooting victims at their facility. Kyle Gassiott of Troy Public Radio is in Dadeville, and he joins us now with the latest. Hi, Kyle.


RASCOE: So what have you learned about what happened?

GASSIOTT: Well, police say the shooting started just past 10:30 p.m. Central Time, and it happened at a dance studio. And as you mentioned, we know that at least four people are dead and multiple others are injured. The local hospital told us they treated at least 15 shooting victims. We know that some other victims were treated elsewhere, and others were medevaced as far away as Birmingham. The Alabama state law enforcement agency has now taken over the investigation. And in addition to state authorities, the local police and sheriff's department are assisting, as is the FBI.

RASCOE: And have authorities mentioned a motive?

GASSIOTT: Not really. Even though this happened 13 hours ago, we know very little at this point. There was a brief news conference at 11 a.m. Eastern, and state authorities gave no information about a motive, nothing about a suspect or suspects or where the investigation stands at this point. They didn't take questions. So there's a lot we don't know right now.

Of course, none of this helps the community here, which is really on edge, Ayesha. The superintendent of the Tallapoosa County schools says counselors will be available at all of those schools on Monday when students return to class and pointed out that it's kids who will suffer the most.

RASCOE: You spoke to a relative of the girl whose party this was. What did she say to you?

GASSIOTT: Yes. I interviewed Annette Allen, who was the grandmother of the girl. She gave me some details, including that her grandson is among those who was killed. The dance studio they were in was a place where lots of people from the community rented out for parties and large family gatherings. And she didn't know how many people were inside for her granddaughter's birthday party. But she said it was a lot.

She said she knows some of the parents have frantically gone from hospital to hospital looking for their loved ones, not knowing whether they're alive or dead. And Annette Allen also had some strong language about the prevalence of guns in society today. Let's listen.

ANNETTE ALLEN: Put the guns down, stop being violent and get along with each other and put God first, foremost. That what they need to do, learn about God. And they would know not to be picking up guns and shooting and killing people, taking innocent people life.

GASSIOTT: And there's already, Ayesha, a community vigil planned for tonight at one of the local churches.

RASCOE: Tell us more about the community in Dadeville. You know, what kind of place is this?

GASSIOTT: Well, it's a small city, and the population is about 3,000. It's an hour away from Montgomery, the state capital, and it's not too far from Auburn University. People here know most everyone, as you would expect. The dance studio is actually part of a very small town square. And the city hall is just a half a block away. Certainly, this kind of traumatic event is rare here. And the Dadeville police chief, Jonathan Floyd, spoke at the news conference saying it's a tight-knit community full of wonderful people, and he asked for prayers. He also wanted this message to get out too.


JONATHAN FLOYD: And I also ask each of you, please do not let this moment define what you think about the city of Dadeville and our fine people.

GASSIOTT: The Republican governor of Alabama, Kay Ivey, tweeted this out, saying, I grieve with the people of Dadeville and my fellow Alabamians. Violent crime has no place in our state.

RASCOE: That's Kyle Gassiott of Troy Public Radio, reporting on the scene in Dadeville, Ala., following a mass shooting last night. Thank you very much.

GASSIOTT: Thank you, Ayesha. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Ayesha Rascoe is a White House correspondent for NPR. She is currently covering her third presidential administration. Rascoe's White House coverage has included a number of high profile foreign trips, including President Trump's 2019 summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, Vietnam, and President Obama's final NATO summit in Warsaw, Poland in 2016. As a part of the White House team, she's also a regular on the NPR Politics Podcast.
Kyle Gassiott