Hundreds of mourners gathered at a candlelight vigil in Alabaster for slain Alabama State University student Adam “Belle” Dowdell on Thursday night.
The 22-year-old student-athlete’s body was found behind a church not far from the ASU campus on Monday.
More than 200 mourners hugged, prayed, and released red balloons in Dowdell’s memory on Thursday.
“Belle was a lot of things to a lot of people,” said the Rev. Gerry Bivins of Bethesda Apostolic Worship Center in Montevallo, and family friend. “He was a great athlete. I remember him coming into the barber shop with that bushy hair, but he could catch a football. We’re going to miss him.”
He continued: “Black folks, it’s not enough to try to get white folks to understand that Black lives matter. We can’t keep killing our brothers and our sisters. I don’t care who like it and who don’t,” Bivins said.
His mother, Toya Cohill, told police her son left his dorm with a friend to go to an ATM machine on Tuesday, Sept. 8, but he never returned.
Police have not announced any arrests or suspects. But Cohill and other family members named the man they believe is responsible for Dowdell’s death.
Cohill and a cousin identified Chicago native Ivry Hall as the friend who accompanied Dowdell to an ATM machine last week.
Cohill posted photos of her son and Hall on Facebook late Wednesday. She wrote in all caps: “THEY GOT HIM!!… THANK YOU JESUS… WHEN I TELL Y’ALL GOD IS AWESOME!! HE IS AWESOME!! JUSTICE FOR ADAM DOWDELL AKA BELLE… I WON’T MISS A COURT DATE!”
Cohill didn’t go into any specifics, but a cousin revealed more information in the comments section of a YouTube video posted by a crime blogger on Thursday.
A user named “Yazmine” wrote: “They have phone records that prove that he had intentions on hurting my cousin… phone records have proven a lot more than we knew. Stay tuned!”
“We are hurting BADLY! We have so many questions, and we are angry. This young man took his life for no reason, then fled out of state. That screams GUILT all day! You’d think that all that he experienced in Chicago, he would make better decisions being that he’s trying to be an influencer. This is not what a good influence does. Only a cold-hearted person would do this!”
Dowdell’s mom addressed the crowd at the vigil. She warned the crowd to be wary of the people in their circle.
“Make sure the person you call your friend is really your friend,” Cohill said. “Be cautious on who you call your friend. Everybody that smiles in your face is not your friend. That goes for friends, family, your next-door neighbors, your roommates.
“You have to limit yourself, limit the people who know your A to your Z,” she said.
Cohill cautioned the crowd to turn on their location on their phones.
“Stay focused on where you’re at when you go somewhere. It’s hard for people to keep up with you when you don’t turn your location on,” Cohill said. “Your parents aren’t trying to run your business. They’re just trying to keep up with you.”
She said her son didn’t turn off his location. “They turned it off. I know this for a fact, my child didn’t go down without a fight.”
“It wasn’t right how they did my baby,” Cohill said. I don’t want this to happen to my worst enemy. I just want justice for my baby.”