(NewsNation) — Marsiah Collins was a football player and a track athlete. A scholar and a jokester. A leader.
He was, as his father would summarize it, an “outstanding son.”
Collins was one of four people shot and killed at a teenager’s birthday party Saturday night in Dadeville, Alabama. More than two dozen others were injured in the gun violence at a dance studio in the small town of some 3,000 people.
Speaking about his son Monday on NewsNation’s “Banfield,” Martin Collins conveyed frustration at the lack of information police have released about the shooting. No suspect or motive has been publicly identified.
“Even though I understand as a reasonable person the time constraints that it takes to do a thorough investigation, it just seems like the information has just not been sufficient enough, or the effort has not been intense enough based upon what this person did,” Collins said.
Collins, 19, of Opelika; Corbin Holston, 23, of Dadeville; Philstavious Dowdell, 18, of Camp Hill; and Shaunkivia Smith, 17, of Dadeville, were all killed when gunfire erupted at the party, NewsNation local affiliate WRBL reported. There were 28 people who were also injured — some of whom remain in critical condition.
“Marsiah was optimistic and talented, a great scholar, funny kid, lit up the room. Every friend of his that I talked to told me that he was the person that was the peacekeeper and the leader,” Collins said. “Just a big brother who was an outstanding son. I couldn’t have asked God to give me a better son than Marsiah Collins.”
Marsiah was the source of his father’s motivation to get through the Iraq War; he was deployed as a Marine in 2003 when Marsiah’s mother was pregnant.
“It’s just numbing, and it’s numbing to know that other kids lost their lives and have been wounded by a coward who shot and fired a gun at a sweet 16 birthday party,” Collins said.
Other residents of Dadeville told NewsNation affiliate WIAT-TV they are heartbroken and confused by the shooting.
“Never thought something would happen in a small town like that, especially at a 16-year-old’s birthday party,” resident Dwain Holt said. “It’s unbelievable these kids won’t be able to live the rest of their lives over something stupid.”
Ben Hayes, senior pastor at Dadeville First Baptist Church, called the shooting “an evil that has invaded our city.”
“This community is strong, and I think the strength comes from the fact that were a close-knit community,” Hayes said Monday on “Banfield.” “We are part of a family together, and I think that is a big part of how we’re going to get through this and truly overcome this horrible tragedy.”
The shooting comes after others at a Louisville, Kentucky, bank and Nashville, Tennessee, school that collectively claimed the lives of 11 people, including three children.
Collins believes the country needs to have a serious conversation about gun access.
“I don’t understand how we have these … weapons of war on our streets. It doesn’t matter if you’re a white kid or a Black kid, gay kid, straight kid. Our children are dying in America,” Collins said. “I never would have thought this would happen in my life.”