Suspects’ family in Dadeville shooting speaks out during first court appearance

Published: Apr. 25, 2023 at 4:18 PM EDT
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DADEVILLE, Ala. (WTVM) - For the first time, we are hearing from family members of the six young men charged with killing four people and injuring 32 others in the Dadeville mass shooting.

Families of the Dadeville mass shooting suspects filed into the courtroom for the first hearing since it happened across the street from where it happened.

They say they are upset and frustrated to see the young men answering for crimes they believe they didn’t do.

Jeanette Darden is the aunt to Ty Reik McCullough and Travis McCullough. Tamika Riley is the aunt to Willy Brown and a cousin to Johnny Brown.

“Cause these all our boys. We family members. We gotta walk around - people looking at us funny and stuff, getting into it, people arguing and fussing,” said Jeanette Darden. “Everybody always got something negative to say. You don’t say nothing negative about somebody and you don’t know nothing about them.”

“It’s heartbreaking, it’s heartbreaking for both sides,” said Tamika Riley.

“I don’t want my nephew and them to be railroaded, they got a whole life ahead of them,” said Darden.

Speaking out for the first time, they say no matter what - they are sticking beside them as is the rest of the family.

Tuesday’s court hearing shed new light on details surrounding the mass shooting but for Riley, one thing was not new to her.

“They’ve never had a criminal record,” said Riley. “None of them and they all participated in athletics and moving forward in their life and going to college.”

“If you got a 16-year-old’s party, where’s the police? Are you saying the parent, the mom that threw this party should’ve maybe invested into security? Yeah should have had them somewhere,” said Darden.

Darden questions the state’s case - accusing prosecutors of railroading the young men and specifically looking at the charges against 19-year-old Willy Brown Jr.

“Ok where’s the evidence? Where’s the gun? That’s exactly why I say they didn’t do it. I could see if you had a gun on them or you found one,” said Darden. “Then you could say they did do it but they did not do it. Willy Brown is the only one who did not admit to shooting a gun. Why is that? Because he didn’t have one, and all the rest of them, they probably made them say they had one.”

According to the district attorney prosecuting the case, the judge hearing the case has 48 hours to make a ruling on whether or not he will grant the defendants bond.

The family says they do not know the other two suspects in the case.

No victims or their families appeared to be in the courtroom during today’s hearing.