The suspect allegedly behind a shooting at an Alabama church that saw two seniors killed was a regular attendee at the house of worship, cops have revealed.
Speaking to the press Friday, police said the gunman was in attendance at the small church at the time of the shooting Thursday, at a meeting billed as a ‘Boomers’ Potluck.’
The suspect, identified as a 71-year-old white male and an ‘occasional attendee of the church’ Friday, pulled out the firearm roughly an hour into 5pm event, and shot three attendees, two fatally.
Police said a ‘hero’ Good Samaritan who also attended the event prevented more casualties by restraining the suspect at the scene, tackling and holding him to the ground until police arrived.
At a news conference Friday morning, Vestavia Hills police provided some details on the shooting, such as the identities of the victims – but did not release a name or motive for the incarcerated suspect, who faces capital murder charges if convicted.
Captain Shane Ware of Vestavia Hills revealed Wednesday the currently incarcerated suspect allegedly behind the shooting at an Alabama church Thursday was a regular and attended a small church meeting before killings two fellow attendees and injuring one
The shooting, which saw one other congregator injured, transpired Thursday just after 6pm, at Alabama Episcopalian church in Vestavia Hills, a suburb of Birmingham
The ‘Boomers Potluck’ event was advertised on the church website. Police said the gunman was in attendance before suddenly brandishing a gun and opening fire on other attendees
Addressing reporters Friday, Captain Shane Ware, said the first victim, 84-year-old Walter Rainey of Irondale, was shot and killed at the scene.
The second to be slain, 75-year-old Sarah Yeager, of Pelham, died of her injuries at nearby University of Alabama Hospital, police said. An 84-year-old Hoover woman, Jane Pounds, was also shot but survived, and remains in the hospital.
The shooting, which saw one other congregator injured, transpired Thursday just after 6pm, at Alabama Episcopalian church in Vestavia Hills, a suburb of Birmingham.
Captain Shane Ware of Vestavia Hills police added the gunman is in custody, but refused to release a motive for the attack.
The injured person has been taken to Birmingham’s UAB hospital – the only level one trauma center in the state of Alabama.
‘At approximately 6:22 PM Central Time the Vestavia Hills Police Department responded to Saint Stephen’s Episcopal Church located at 3775 Crosshaven Drive Vestavia Hills, AL on a call of an active shooter,’ the police wrote on Facebook.
Multiple law enforcement agencies and fire departments were at the scene Thursday well into the night.
‘The VHPD confirms multiple people were shot,’ police confirmed in a statement. ‘The suspect is in custody.’
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A panicked priest was filmed running from the scene at the Alabama Episcopalian church, in a suburb of Birmingham, which was hosting the neighborhood gathering.
Multiple first responders attended the scene of the attack on Thursday evening
Rev. Kelley Hudlow with the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama said they did not know how many people were inside the building at the time.
She said the congregation were inside the church, when someone came in and started shooting.
‘There were folks at church. There has been a shooting, and there are folks that have been injured,’ she said.
‘We are working to get more information, to take care of the people who were there..
‘We are praying for healing and safety for all of those who have been impacted and affected.
‘We are praying for everyone involved and we are trying to get as much information about what happened as we can get.’
Hudlow said it was ‘a scary thing’.
She urged the community to ‘do what this community is really good at – and that’s coming together, through prayers and thoughts and anything else.’
Police in Vestavia Hills, six miles from downtown Birmingham, Alabama, confirmed that ‘multiple people’ were shot in a church on Thursday evening
Kelley Hudlow, a priest with the Episcopal Church of Alabama, said the shooting was ‘scary’ and urged everyone to send prayers
A prayer circle formed in a parking lot near the church on Thursday night
People held hands in a prayer circle in Vestavia Hills on Thursday night
On Thursday night well-wishers gathered in the parking lot of the church, holding hands in a prayer circle.
‘What you are seeing is hope, folks,’ said Jonathan Hardison, WBRC anchor.
‘You are seeing healing, with those folks standing together.’