Rolling Out

Alabama teenager at tragic Dadeville party has a powerful message for America

A friend of at least 2 of the victims, he shares his experience

Chris Foster’s life will never be the same. The 17-year-old junior at Benjamin Russell High School attended Alexis Dowdell’s Sweet 16 party in downtown Dadeville, Alabama on April 15.  Alexis was his ex-girlfriend, but he was still cordial with her and friends with her brother, Phil Dowdell.

That night, 32 people were injured and four people died. Philstavious “Phil” Dowdell, 18; Siah Collins, 19; Shaunkivia “Keke” Smith, 17; and Corbin Holston, 23. In addition to being Phil’s friend, Foster went to prom with Smith in 2022.

Six young Black men have been arrested and charged in connection to the shooting: Willie George Brown Jr., 19, of Auburn, Johnny Letron Brown, 20, of Tuskegee, Wilson LaMar Hill Jr., 20, of Auburn, Travis McCullough, 16, of Tuskegee, Tyreese “Ty Reik” McCullough, 17, of Tuskegee and a juvenile, 15, of Tuskegee.

At Phil and Smith’s candlelight vigil in Camp Hill, Alabama, on April 20, Foster opened up to rolling out about his traumatic week.

What did Phil mean to you?

A lot. More like a brother. I used to go with his little sister. I still talk to her and make sure she’s all right. He always told me to take care of his mama and little sister if he were to go somewhere.

Were you at the party?

Yes, sir. I was there … when that happened.

What do you remember from that night?

A lot of fun, [Phil’s] smile, as everyone’s said. Females [were there]. That’s about it.

How have you handled the tragedy? 

It’s been tough. They say don’t question God, but personally, I don’t think it was his time to go, but they say don’t question God, so I guess it was his time to go.

How has this changed your life?

Pretty tough, man. You always see it everywhere else, you know, and you wouldn’t think it would hit so close to home in our hometown.

How hurtful was it to know all of the six suspects arrested were Black, a part of our own community?

I don’t know. I’ve heard so many stories about how they grew up, but it’s been tough. It’s been a tough pill to swallow.

What can people do to help you?

Nothing but love and stay together. Show me, I guess, ways to help me cope, and show me ways to deal with this kind of tragedy.

Have you been shown that love over the past couple of days?

Yes, sir. My family. His family.

And you just want people to continue to show up for you like that moving forward?

Yes, sir.

What message do you want to send to anybody reading or watching this right now?

If you get into it with somebody, at least fight them, don’t try to shoot them. Put the guns up because this could have been prevented or avoided.

Why do you think people turn to guns so quickly now? Do you think music plays a part in any of it?

It can be anything. What they’re going through, you never know what somebody’s going through or what they’re thinking. This person may be with somebody that hates you and things just go wrong. Most of it is the music, I guess.

12 Responses

  1. So sorry you are carrying this load. Young man talk to all the kids you know. Let’s sit down
    and talk. You and your friends can do this. I do care what color, are how ruch you are.
    Please in GOD’S name talk to the rest of the kids.
    You will make a good teacher or lawyer.
    God Bless You.

    1. Mostly it’s the lyrics of the music. Well, it’s the lyrics mixed with the lack of moral & Biblical teaching & training & easy access to dangerous firearms. Place the blame on law-makers who made it 100% easy to get the guns & no parenting.

      1. If that question even has to be asked you’re nit paying attention to it. Music has always been mood altering. Don’t u know that before most drivebys they listen to music to geek themselves up. Even in church,music is mood altering. In relationships when u wanna do da do music again,is music altering. If u wanna check the pulse of a society,listen to the music the teens and early twenties are listening to.

  2. Please seek a grief counseling group. It helps immensely, to be with others who understand all the feels. 😥✝️

    1. Honest and legitimate question. The stats on blacks killing blacks is horrendous. BLM to most others but not other blacks. The truth is the truth,no matter how upset this post gets u. Just keep killing each other or acknowledge this problem and then address it.

      1. I say Amen to that! Failure to face the truth ( no matter how painful) or to nip it in the bud, only allows the bud to bloom & blossom in the worst possible way 😩.

  3. I was shocked!!!! Dadeville???
    Really,I couldn’t believe it
    I am familiar with the city and wouldn’t have ever thought it could have happened there.I heard a young man say ” a gun gives you power,you’re the man” if you have s gun.He died at age 20 of gun violence.
    We have to repent,start over teaching our children how to love rather than hate.
    Teach our children to be respectful of life.
    Pray for revival!!!!!

  4. I agree with everyone affected by this tragedy getting grief counseling. Because this event is still so fresh you feel like you don’t need help, but this has affected everyone in this community and should affect everyone in this country. We should love one another. I agree with the person who said we as adults need to be teaching our children how to love one another not hate each other. I am praying for this community for healing from this horrific event.

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