"Hero" at Alabama church shooting subdued gunman, police say; death toll rises to 3

Church members console each other after a shooting at the St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church on Thursday, June 16, 2022, in Vestavia Hills, Ala.
Church shooting “hero” subdued gunman, police say; death toll rises to 3
A gunman opened fire inside a suburban Alabama church during a potluck dinner, killing three members.
A “hero” attending a potluck dinner subdued the gunman who opened fire
inside an Alabama church Thursday, killing three members, police said. Police announced the death of the third victim Friday afternoon.

Police Capt. Shane Ware said a suspect was in custody but only identified him as a 71-year-old White male who occasionally attended services at the St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in the Birmingham suburb of Vestavia Hills. District Attorney Danny Carr later identified the suspect as Robert Findlay Smith and said warrants had been issued for capital murder of two or more persons. He is being held without bond.

The suspect pulled a gun and opened fire during the dinner, a “Boomers Potluck” gathering attended by other church members, Ware said. He killed Walter Rainey, an 84-year-old man from Irondale, Alabama, and Sarah Yeager, a 75-year-old woman from Pelham, Alabama, police said in a statement earlier Friday.

An 84-year-old woman from Hoover, Alabama, was also wounded in the shooting. She was taken to an area hospital and died on Friday. Police said in a statement Friday afternoon the woman’s family asked for her name to not be released.

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