The latest on the Alabama shooting that killed 4 at a teen's birthday party
ELISSA NADWORNY, HOST:
Dadeville, Ala., is the site of this country's latest mass shooting. It happened last night at a sweet 16 birthday party. Four people were killed, and many others were wounded. The mayor of Dadeville, Jimmy Frank Goodman, spoke earlier today at a vigil calling for the violence to stop.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
JIMMY FRANK GOODMAN: We are a close-knitted city. And we don't - how to put it - we don't cater to saying white or Black because we are all one.
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: That's right.
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: All right.
GOODMAN: That's the way God wanted it to be.
NADWORNY: We're going to speak with Kyle Gassiott of Troy Public Radio, who's been in Dadeville since early this morning, and he joins us now. Hi, Kyle.
KYLE GASSIOTT, BYLINE: Hi, Elissa.
NADWORNY: So, Kyle, what do we know about what happened?
GASSIOTT: Well, not a lot. There's only been one law enforcement briefing so far, and it was many hours ago. What we're told is that four people died, and a multitude of others were shot at a sweet 16 birthday party, and that's about it. We did speak to a local hospital, which said they treated 15 shooting victims. Others, we know, went to a neighboring health facility, and some of the most critical were flown by helicopter to Birmingham. We don't know anything about a motive, a suspect or anything about the timeline other than it just started past 10:30 Saturday night.
NADWORNY: What more can you tell us about the birthday party?
GASSIOTT: Well, it was being held at a dance studio in Dadeville, Elissa. That's often rented out for parties and family gatherings and get-togethers. We know that there were many young people in attendance. The superintendent of the local school district said that as much in that press briefing earlier. One of those killed was the older brother of the girl celebrating her 16th birthday. I spoke to his grandmother this morning about a block away from the dance studio. She was awaiting word on what happened. Annette Allen was mourning his loss and was also angry about the prevalence of guns and how easy they are to obtain.
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 - shooting and killing people, taking innocent people life.
GASSIOTT: Elissa, she also says her daughter was among those who were also shot.
NADWORNY: So sadly, these mass shootings are becoming more common. I mean, it was just a week ago that five people were killed at a bank shooting in Louisville, Ky. What are people in Dadeville talking to you about today?
GASSIOTT: Well, first off, Dadeville is a small place. There's only about 3,000 people that live here. It's about an hour from the state capital of Montgomery and not too far from Auburn University. It really is the kind of place where most folks know each other. So when people gathered for an afternoon vigil to honor those who were shot, the emotions were raw. Pastor Justin Freeman of New Canaan Baptist Church says the oft-repeated phrase that shootings can happen anywhere, and that now that's proven true for his community.
JUSTIN FREEMAN: We never think about things like this. We see it. We read about it. We click on it. But that's never been us. So for us to experience something like this, it's shocking. It's surprising. It's - I mean, it's unfathomable, but it shows us that we're not exempt.
GASSIOTT: Other speakers during the vigil focused on the kids and just needing to be there for them and not shielding them from what happened.
NADWORNY: Yeah. About those kids - I mean, it seems like a lot of people in the dance hall were young. What are officials doing to help them?
GASSIOTT: We heard from the superintendent of the local school district, who said they're not planning to cancel classes tomorrow, but they're going to have extra counselors on hand at every school district in the area. Their main job is to help kids get through this, to understand what happened and just to be there to listen to them. At this point, Elissa, we don't know how many of those shot were kids, but it is a lot and will clearly have an impact on them both in the short and long term.
NADWORNY: That's Kyle Gassiott of Troy Public Radio, reporting today from Dadeville, Ala. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.