DADEVILLE, Ala. (AP) — Investigators were gathering evidence Sunday at an Alabama dance studio where four people were killed and multiple others were injured during a shooting Saturday night at a teenager's birthday party.
The shooting happened around 10:30 p.m. in Dadeville, Sgt. Jeremy Burkett of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency said. There was no initial confirmation about what led to the shooting. It was not immediately known if a suspect was in custody.
"There were four lives tragically lost in this incident and there's been a multitude of injuries," Burkett said during a news conference Sunday morning.
The shootings rocked the city of 3,200 residents, which is about 57 miles (92 kilometers) northeast of Montgomery, Alabama.
Dadeville Police Chief Jonathan L. Floyd paused to regain his composure before speaking at the news conference.
“What we’ve dealt with is something that no community should have to endure. I just ask for your patience. It’s going to be a long process, but I do earnestly solicit your prayers,” Floyd said.
More than 12 hours after the shooting, investigators continued filing in and out of the Mahogany Masterpiece dance studio, denoted by a banner hanging on the outside of a one-story brick building in Dadeville’s compact downtown. City and county officials milled about the Tallapoosa County Courthouse less than a block away, where officials lowered the American and Alabama flags to half staff.
Pastor Ben Hayes, who serves as chaplain for the Dadeville Police Department and for the local high school football team, said most of the victims are teenagers because the shooting occurred at a birthday party for a 16-year-old. He said the shooting has rocked the small town where serious crime is rare.
“One of the young men that was killed was one of our star athletes and just a great guy. So I knew many of these students. Dadeville is a small town and this is going to affect everybody in this area,” Hayes said.
The Tallapoosa County school system said counseling will be available for students at the schools Monday, the school superintendent, Raymond C. Porter, said.
“This morning, I grieve with the people of Dadeville and my fellow Alabamians. Violent crime has NO place in our state, and we are staying closely updated by law enforcement as details emerge,” Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said in a statement posted on social media.
President Joe Biden has been briefed on the shooting, the White House said, adding that it is closely monitoring the situation and has been in touch with local officials and law enforcement to offer support.
This is at least the second time in recent years that multiple people were shot in Dadeville. Five people were wounded in July 2016 during a shooting at an American Legion hall, and a man was later charged with five counts of attempted murder, news outlets reported.