DADEVILLE, Ala. (WIAT) — Today, Dadeville honors a beloved son, brother and friend.
Phil Dowdell, 18, was one of four young people killed in the city’s recent mass shooting that happened at a birthday party.
Six people are now facing charges in connection with the deadly shooting.
Dowdell’s family says their hearts are broken. He was just weeks away from graduating from Dadeville High School.
Alexis Dowdell, Dowdell’s sister, said her brother died in her arms, saving her life as gun fire erupted at her Sweet 16 party.
His peers and family said he was everything you could ever want in a friend and family member.
“I looked at him like a little brother,” said Antreal Allen, Dowdell’s uncle. “You know, he was my guy, my boy, my rock. Everything that we did, you know we had a conversation about any and everything.”
“Everything you want in a child,” said Maya Maddox, another family member. “Smart, street smart, book smart. I mean, just amazing- amazing young man.”
The Chaplin for Dowdell’s football team at Dadeville High School, Dr. Ben Hayes, told CBS 42 Dowdell had a lion’s heart-a strong competitor who gave everything while on the football field and running track.
Dr. Hayes says Dowdell was probably a top three fastest student-athlete in the whole state. Dowdell had committed to play football at Jacksonville State University in the fall following graduation.
Dr Hayes said his heart brakes for Dowdell’s family, friends and teammates
“When he was on the field, you didn’t want to hit him, and you didn’t want to get hit by him,” said Dr. Hayes. “But when he came off the field, he was one of the nicest guys you would ever meet. His smile would like up a room and he smiled all the time. His friends loved him. His teachers respected him. He was just a good all-around kid.”
Several community members said that processing this tragedy is difficult. Senior pastor at Trinity UMC, brain Erickson said keeping Dadeville in our thoughts and prayers is key in a time like this.
He said prayer can sometimes be seen as a substitute for action and change, but that when we open our hearts and listen in prayer for god’s calling, that’s when the power of actions manifests.
“I think, again, asking for God’s will to be done,” said Pastor Erickson. “For God to draw near them in a really powerful and palpable way and then to ask ourselves in silence, ‘God, what are you calling me to do.’”
Pastor Erickson said he prays for Dadeville daily as the healing process will take time.
Today’s funeral services for Dowdell will take place in the Dadeville High School auditorium starting at 1 p.m. Dowdell’s mother said the colors will be black and gold in his honor.