Sixth person arrested in connection with shooting at Sweet 16 party in Alabama

DADEVILLE, Ala. —  Three more people were arrested Thursday in connection with a shooting at a Sweet 16 birthday party in Alabama that killed four people and injured dozens more, authorities said.

A 15-year-old who was not named because of his age; Johnny Letron Brown, 20, of Tuskegee; and Willie George Brown Jr., 19, of Auburn, were arrested Thursday, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency said.

The apprehensions bring the total number of people arrested in connection with the shooting Saturday in Dadeville to six.

All six have been charged with four counts of reckless murder.

The gunfire, which injured 32 people in addition to the four who were killed, erupted around 10:34 p.m. Saturday at a dance studio on Broadnax Street in Dadeville, where friends and family were celebrating a 16-year-old girl’s birthday, police said.

All of the people arrested and charged, except the 15-year-old, are being held in jail without bond, said the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, or ALEA.

Johnny Letron Brown has a clean criminal record and is set to go to Faulkner University in the fall to play NAIA football, said his mother, Amanda Riley.

“He didn’t do any shooting. When the firearms started firing off, he got down on the floor,” she said. “My kids don’t carry weapons, I’m going to tell you that right now. The FBI just searched my house. They couldn’t find one weapon in my house. They didn’t find one bullet in my house and in my shed out back.”

Shooting victim Taniya Cox, wearing a cast, prays with her family during a vigil at First Baptist Church in Dadeville, Ala., on Sunday, April 16, 2023.
Shooting victim Taniya Cox, wearing a cast, prays with her family Sunday during a vigil at First Baptist Church in Dadeville.Jake Crandall / The Advertiser / USA Today Network

Riley said Thursday her son and Willie George Brown Jr. are first cousins. She declined to comment on behalf of Brown Jr. because, she said, she didn’t know about his alleged role at the party. Other relatives of Brown Jr. could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday afternoon.

Tyreese “Ty Reik” McCullough, 17, and his brother Travis McCullough, 16, who also live in Tuskegee, were arrested Tuesday night, while Wilson LaMar Hill Jr., 20, of Auburn, was taken into custody Wednesday afternoon, authorities said.

The four people who were killed were Shaunkivia Smith, 17; Marsiah Collins, 19; Corbin Holston, 23; and Philstavious Dowdell, 18.

Dowdell is the brother of Alexis Dowdell, who was celebrating her birthday that night, 5th Judicial Circuit District Attorney Mike Segrest said.

Dadeville is about 25 miles northwest of Auburn University.

Jamie Morrison reported from Dadeville and David K. Li from New York City.

Antonio Planas, Madelyn Urabe and Phil Helsel contributed.