Dadeville students killed in mass shooting remembered at graduation
DADEVILLE, Ala. (WSFA) - It was a bittersweet occasion for Dadeville High School’s graduating class as they walked across the field to grab their diplomas Thursday night. Two students who should have received their diplomas didn’t.
Shaunkivia Smith and Philstavious “Phil” Dowdell were among the victims of last month’s mass shooting that left four people dead and dozens injured at a sweet 16 birthday party.
Students wore stoles and buttons to remember the two graduates.
Smith’s and Dowdell’s seats were marked with their senior headshots, and their parents walked at the graduation wearing caps and gowns.
Smith would have gone to the University of Alabama at Birmingham this fall to become a nurse, while Dowdell would have begun football at Jacksonville State the week after graduation.
Dowdell’s mother, LaTonya Allen, said it was hard to not see him at his graduation, but she is still proud of him and his accomplishments.
“At first, it was very heartbreaking, but I was strong and I did better than I thought I would,” Allen said. “It’s a big accomplishment that he had been waiting on for months, and I knew I had to do it for him. And I’m proud, I’m a proud mom, and it feels like I’m graduating all over again.”
Dowdell’s mother also said she plans to keep his legacy alive so everyone will remember his name.
This week, a grand jury handed down a 145-count indictment against five of the six suspects arrested in connection with the shooting. They were each already facing four counts of reckless murder for the four people who were killed. They now face assault charges for the shooting victims who survived.
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