2 people have died in a shooting at an Alabama church

Church members comfort each other after a shooting at Saint Stevens Episcopal Church Thursday, June 16, 2022, in Vestavia, Alabama.

Butch Dill/AP

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Butch Dill/AP

Church members comfort each other after a shooting at Saint Stevens Episcopal Church Thursday, June 16, 2022, in Vestavia, Alabama.

Butch Dill/AP

VESTAVIA HILLS, Ala. — A lone suspect fired on a small group gathering at a suburban church near a major Alabama city Thursday night, fatally wounding two people and injuring a third before he was taken into custody, authorities said.

The attack occurred at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Vestavia Hills, a suburb of Birmingham, police Capt. Shane Ware said. He said officers rushed to the church after dispatchers received a call reporting an active shooter in the church at 6:22 p.m.

“From what we have gathered from the circumstances tonight, a lone suspect walked into a small church group meeting and began shooting. Three people were shot. Two people are deceased. One person is being treated for an unknown injury.” at a local hospital, Ware said at a news conference Thursday night.

He added that a suspect was in custody and that “there was no threat to the community at this time.”

At an earlier briefing, he had initially said that one person had died and two injured in the shooting had been hospitalized.

Meanwhile, he has declined to identify the suspect or victims or provide further details of the attack, saying his next briefing would be on Friday.

The FBI, the US Marshals Service and the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, Tobacco and Explosives dispatched agents to the scene. Investigators remained hours after dark, with yellow police tape cordoning off the church complex and police and emergency fire vehicles with flashing lights blocking the route to the church. Nearby, people huddled together and prayed.

The Rev. Kelley Hudlow, an Episcopal priest for the Diocese of Alabama, told broadcaster WBRC that the church and community were stunned by the shooting.

“It’s shocking. Saint Stephen’s is a community built on love, prayers and grace, and they will come together,” he said in a live interview with the station. “People of all faiths are coming together to pray in the hope of healing.”

He added that the church was receiving messages of support from all over the United States and the world. “We need everyone. Pray, think, meditate and send love to this community because we are going to need everything,” she said.

The church’s website had listed a “Boomers Potluck” for Thursday night. “There will be no program, just eat and have time for fellowship,” the flyer said.

News outlet al.com said two injured people had been rushed to UAB Hospital in Birmingham, before police said one of them had died.

It was the latest in a series of deadly shootings that has rocked the nation. On Saturday, thousands of people rallied across the US and on the National Mall in Washington, DC, to renew calls for stricter gun control measures after recent deadly mass shootings from Buffalo, New York, to Uvalde, Texas. Survivors of mass shootings and other incidents of gun violence also lobbied lawmakers and testified on Capitol Hill this month.

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey released a statement lamenting what she called the shocking and tragic loss of life at the church. Although she said she was glad to know the suspect was in custody, she added: “This should never happen, in a church, in a store, in the city or anywhere.”

Vestavia Hills is a residential community southeast of Birmingham, one of the two most populous cities in Alabama.


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