Shooting at a birthday party in the United States: the toll is four dead and many injured
Steph Deschamps / April 18, 2023
At least four people died and about 20 others, mostly teenagers, were wounded when a gunman opened fire Saturday during a birthday party in a southern U.S. city, days after a similar tragedy at a Kentucky bank.
The shootings occurred at about 10:30 p.m. Sunday in Dadeville, a small Alabama town, local authorities said, without indicating whether a suspect was in custody. They were targeting the Mahogany Masterpiece, a downtown dance hall where a teenager was celebrating her 16th birthday. A bullet hole was still visible Sunday in the glass door of the building, which is surrounded by the famous yellow police tape.
This act has tragically claimed the lives of four people and left many injured," state official Jeremy Burkett told a news conference Sunday. He later said 28 people were injured, several seriously, and urged residents to come forward with any information they have about the attack. Mr. Burkett did not, however, provide further details on the circumstances of the incident or the shooter's motive.
Law enforcement believes an altercation led to the tragedy, according to local station WRBL. An investigation is underway. Lake Martin Hospital received 15 injuries, including "a majority of teenagers," hospital official Heidi Smith told AFP. Other injured were treated elsewhere, she said.
The girl's brother, who was celebrating his birthday, was among those killed, their grandmother told the Montgomery Advertiser newspaper. He was an unremarkable teenager, "who always had a smile on his face," she said.
U.S. President Joe Biden said in a statement that he regretted that America was "once again plunged into mourning" by gunfire. "What has our country become, when children can't go to a birthday party without fear? When parents have to worry every time their children walk through the door of the school, the movie theater, or go to the park?" The Democrat is moved, after each shooting, by the recurrence of these massacres. Since his inauguration, he has issued a series of decrees to better regulate firearms, but his powers are limited because Congress has jurisdiction in this area.
But Republicans are very reluctant to make any major changes, and many elected officials are under the influence of the powerful National Rifle Association (NRA), America's leading gun lobby. Local politicians in this conservative state have expressed their "pain" but have been careful not to call for legislative change.
The United States is paying a very heavy price for the spread of firearms on its territory and the ease with which Americans have access to them. On Saturday evening, more shootings left at least two dead and four wounded in a park in Louisville, Kentucky (east-central), according to local police. It was in this same city that a young man opened fire on April 10 in the bank that employed him, killing five people. And at the end of March, a person had killed three 9-year-old children and three employees in a school in Nashville, in neighboring Tennessee.
Illustrating the infernal cycle of shootings in which America is trapped, the shootings of this weekend in Alabama and Kentucky occur exactly sixteen years after a massacre at Virginia Tech University. On April 16, 2007, an unhinged student shot and killed 32 people on the campus in Blacksburg before killing himself.
The United States has more individual guns than people. The consequence of this proliferation is a very high rate of firearm deaths, unmatched by other developed countries. The number of victims must now be particularly high or the circumstances particularly striking for shootings to generate national media interest.