Written by 5:29 pm In the News

2 dead at church shooting

A gunman opened fire on a potluck dinner group at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Vestavia Hills, Alabama on Thursday, killing two and injuring another.

The Vestavia Hills Police Department was alerted to the incident at 3775 Crosshaven Drive around 6:22 p.m.

Capt. Shane Ware said during a briefing that a lone suspect entered the church meeting and began shooting. Three people were shot and two died. Another person is receiving treatment at a hospital, Ware added.

An 84-year-old Irondale man – Walter Rainey, died at the scene. A 75-year-old Pelham woman – Sarah Yeager, died at UAB Hospital. An 84-year-old Hoover woman was injured in the shooting and remains in the hospital.

The suspect was subdued by another churchgoer until officers arrived on scene to take him into custody

“As we are learning about the shocking and tragic loss of a life at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Vestavia, we want to offer our prayers for the victim’s family, the injured and the entire church community,” said Alabama Governor Kay Ivey in a statement released to the press. “I am glad to hear the shooter is in custody. This should never happen — in a church, in a store, in the city or anywhere. We continue to closely monitor the situation.”

The suspect, a 71-year-old man, was an occasional attendee of the church. He is being held in the city jail and is facing capital murder charges. Authorities believe he acted alone and there is no threat to the community.

Vestavia Hills Mayor Ashley Curry issued the following statement Thursday night:

“With the tragic news that has broken this evening, I offer my heartfelt condolences to the victims of this evening’s shooting at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church. I would also like to offer thanks on behalf of myself and our Vestavia Hills residents to the first responders from all agencies who have worked tirelessly since this incident began.”

The rector of the church, the Rev. John Burruss, posted a video on social media saying he was “deeply moved by the radical support of love from many people reaching out from all over the country, our clergy, and our first responders who are gathered now with families at St. Stephens.”

(Picture Courtesy: AP)

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