College students killed in Alabama capturing had shiny futures forward of them, says pastor 



As It Occurs6:40College students killed in Alabama capturing had shiny futures forward of them, says pastor

Pastor Ben Hayes says he is attempting to assist his grieving group — emotionally, spiritually and financially.

Hayes is senior pastor at First Baptist Church in Dadeville, Ala., the place 4 younger individuals had been killed and dozens extra injured in a capturing at a Candy 16 celebration on Saturday evening.

The useless embody Shaunkivia Nicole (Keke) Smith, 17, Philstavious (Phil) Dowdell, 18, Marsiah Emmanuel (Siah) Collins, 19, and Corbin Dahmontrey Holston, 23, the county coroner mentioned Monday. The celebration was for Dowdell’s sister’s birthday.

Authorities have been tight-lipped in regards to the investigation up to now. It isn’t clear who might have began the capturing and why, or whether or not police have made any arrests. Sgt. Jeremy Burkett of the Alabama Regulation Enforcement Company didn’t take questions throughout information conferences Sunday, and officers repeatedly requested others to return ahead with info on the capturing.

Hayes — who has been speaking to survivors — described the shooter as male, and mentioned the children on the celebration that he is spoken to did not acknowledge him. 

Hayes is the senior pastor at Dadeville First Baptist Church, and serves because the chaplain for the Dadeville Police Division and the Dadeville Excessive College soccer group. He personally knew two of the victims. Right here is a part of his dialog on Monday afternoon with As It Occurs host Nil Köksal.

Pastor Hayes, I am so sorry that this has occurred to you and your group. How are you holding up this morning?

We’re drained. We’re drained bodily [and] emotionally. However in my journeys across the group this morning, we’re holding up surprisingly nicely.

We’re seeing the names of 4 individuals killed within the capturing, 4 younger individuals. What are you able to inform us in regards to the younger individuals you knew?

I knew Phil Dowdell [and] Keke. Each of those had been athletes at our highschool.

I didn’t know Keke very nicely. I knew her by sight and speaking to her. She was a supervisor for some groups and she or he was a particular type of individual, as a result of she would do something on this planet for you. She helped out in all places she might.

Phil I knew since I used to be the chaplain of the Dadeville soccer group. Phil was a shiny star. He had an incredible future forward of him. Phil had a smile that when he walked right into a room, simply brightened it up. He had a persona such as you would not imagine. A powerful competitor on the sector, however only a nice man off the sector. All people liked him. All people revered him.

WATCH | Dadeville trainer remembers Phil Dowdell throughout vigil:

Instructor and coach ‘misplaced for phrases’ after Alabama capturing

Mardracus Russell, a historical past trainer and assistant observe and subject coach at Dadeville Excessive College, attends a vigil for the 4 younger individuals killed Saturday in a capturing at a celebration. He remembers Phil Dowdell, 18, as a star athlete who had a shiny future forward of him.

All the pieces I have been studying underlines what you’ve got simply mentioned. You already know, these each sound like younger individuals who had been so concerned in all the pieces they like to do, concerned of their group. What sorts of issues had been they planning for the subsequent steps of their lives?

Phil had obtained a scholarship to play soccer at Jacksonville State College right here in Alabama. So he was going to go far. Phil was most likely one of the crucial gifted athletes of this graduating class within the state of Alabama.

And Keke … I do know that she had a shiny future simply due to her persona, due to her power, her power. I believe she, too, would have went far.

How did you discover out in regards to the capturing?

I obtained a cellphone name. I used to be in mattress, asleep, about 11:30 on Saturday evening. I used to be advised that there had been a capturing and that Phil was useless. I instantly reached out to our chief of police, since I am the chaplain for the Dadeville law enforcement officials, and requested if there was any approach that I might assist. And he mentioned he wanted me to go to the hospital to assist with crowd management. 

What was the scene there like?

Once I arrived, there have been most likely 250 individuals within the parking zone. Vehicles had been in all places. Ambulances had been in all places. Relations, buddies, a number of the college students — some who had been on the celebration, some who had heard what had occurred — had been there.

It was quite a lot of grief, quite a lot of unhappiness, quite a lot of shock. This sort of factor does not occur in Dadeville, so nobody was anticipating it. We do not have these sorts of issues right here. And so it is a type of conditions the place you get there and also you’re simply a part of the group as a result of everyone seems to be simply shocked and doesn’t know what to do.

A group of teenagers hold each other. Some cry, others bow their heads.
Younger individuals maintain one another throughout a vigil. (Cheney Orr/Reuters)

And it is a small place, a really linked place, proper? Only a few thousand individuals reside there?

We’ve got a bit over 3,000 individuals right here in Dadeville. The encompassing group is way bigger…. However it’s a small city. It’s a very close-knit group. All people is aware of everyone. And quite a lot of of us are associated to others.

However as a result of we’re so shut knit, we’re a really robust group.

Have you ever had an opportunity to talk, pastor, to any of the victims’ households, their dad and mom?

As a pastor, I had a full day on Sunday after which we did a prayer vigil for the group on Sunday evening.

I’ve not had a possibility to speak to the rapid [family]. I’ve talked to prolonged households — aunts, uncles, cousins, these sorts of issues.

What was your Sunday service like?

Very sombre to start with, however we imagine that there is hope. 

We’re a faith-based bunch of parents down right here in Alabama and we imagine that our hope goes past this world and goes past the tragedies of this world. And so whereas we had been unhappy, we had been additionally excited. We had a good time of worship as we celebrated life, as we talked about how we might make it by means of this very tough time with our religion in Christ, and the way we might use that to assist these round us.

Two pairs of people embrace within a larger crowd.
Group members embrace throughout a prayer vigil at First Baptist Church in Dadeville, Ala., on Sunday. Pastor Ben Hayes says the group is discovering power of their shut ties. (Jake Crandall/The Montgomery Advertiser/The Related Press)

Have authorities advised you something a few suspect or suspects? 

As a chaplain for the Dadeville Police Division and a sworn officer, I am not at liberty to share any of that info.

OK. The investigation is ongoing?

The investigation is ongoing. We’re asking the general public to offer any video feeds, any photos that they could have of what occurred.

I’ll inform you that the scholars that I talked to, personally, noticed the person and they didn’t know him. And that leads us to imagine that he was not from our group, as a result of, as I say, this can be a small city and everyone is aware of everyone.

What’s going to you do subsequent, now, in your group?

We’re attempting to get the phrase out that we’re right here to assist them. We’re elevating cash for the households. Simply perceive that almost all of us don’t carry life insurance coverage insurance policies on our kids, and so there can be excessive prices concerned in offering funerals for these households. There are going to be medical prices incurred. And we’re simply attempting to handle these wants by elevating cash for them.

We’re going to be accessible on the faculties. We’ll be working with the varsity system to be there together with different psychological well being suppliers. And we will have an ongoing presence in our group attempting to assist all of our individuals to take care of this crucial stress incident that occurred on Saturday evening. 

With recordsdata from The Related Press. Interview produced by Katie Geleff. Q&A edited for size and readability.

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