DADEVILLE, Ala. (WIAT) — On Monday afternoon, hundreds attended a funeral service for 18-year-old Phil Dowdell at Dadeville High School, where he attended.
Dowdell was killed in a mass shooting at his sister’s sweet 16 birthday party in Dadeville last Saturday night. That shooting also claimed the lives of three other young people and injured 32 more. Six suspects have since been arrested and all charged with four counts of reckless murder.
The crowd for the service was so large that a line wrapped around the building — many of them decked in black and gold in his honor. Dowdell was later buried at Lockhart Cemetery.
While the scars left by his death and the violence will take much time to heal, many of the attendees felt grateful for the time that they did have with someone “so special.”
“A young man like that can bring a community together … He was a special young man, and God knew that from the beginning,” said Brad Ford outside the auditorium.
Ford spoke at the funeral. As a former NFL player and Dadeville High School alum himself, he said he had a special bond with Phil.
“I just want the community to know, the state of Alabama, this city, that we’re gonna be alright … Things will get better over time, and everything they do, Phil will be there with them, watching over them, protecting them,” Ford said.
For Phil’s aunt and uncle, the large attendance meant so much to their family.
“The community really loved Phil, and Phil loved the community because he was just a special person. That smile, that talent, that [athleticism],” said Stanley Edwards, Phil’s Uncle.
They wanted the world to remember their nephew as the kindest young man who made an effort to include everyone.
“He was a very humble person, and everybody loved him, and I just loved his spirit. He had that glowing spirit, and he’s going to be well missed,” said Julia Edwards, Phil’s aunt.