Funerals announced for 3 victims of St. Stephen’s Church shooting

Funeral arrangements have been announced for the three people who were killed inside an Alabama church when a 70-year-old man opened fire during a potluck dinner.

The shooting broke out Thursday night inside the parish hall of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in the Cahaba Heights community of Vestavia Hills. Walter “Bart” Rainey, 84, of Irondale; Sarah “Sharon” Yeager, 75, of Pelham; and Jane Pounds, 84, of Hoover.

Robert Findlay Smith, who had attended the church on multiple occasions, is charged with capital murder for their murders.

Read more: St. Stephen’s holds first services after shooting; ‘They made everyone welcome’

He remains being held without bond at the Jefferson County Jail. A motive has not been revealed.

“I write to you in the inexhaustible hope of the Gospel and in the certainty of the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ,” said Rev. John B. Burruss wrote in announcing the funeral arrangements on Monday. “I am also writing to you amidst immense sadness, shock and grief following the trauma of the deaths of our beloved parishioners Bart Rainey and Sharon Yeager on Thursday June 16 and Jane Pounds on Friday June 17.”

“In this raw and visceral moment, I ask for your prayers for the family and friends of Bart Rainey, especially our parishioners Straughn Rainey, Bill and Melinda Thompson, and Nat (Abbie), Warner (Rebecca) and Lily Thompson. I ask for your prayers from the family and friends of Sharon Yeager. And I ask for your prayers for the family and friends of Jane Pounds,” she wrote.

All funerals will be held at St. Stephen’s. The church will broadcast the services live.

Rainey’s service will be Wednesday at 11 am. in the nave of the church. A wake will be held at 10 am in the Gathering Space, followed by a reception at noon, also in the Gathering Space, after the service.

Yeager’s funeral will also be held on Wednesday. There will be a private burial at 1 pm followed by a service at 3 pm in the nave and a reception at 4 pm in the Chapel of St. John.

The service for Libras will be Thursday at 11 am on the ship, followed by a reception at noon in the Meeting Space.

See full coverage of the Vestavia Hills church shooting here.

The shooting occurred at the church’s “Boomers Potluck” dinner that began at 5 p.m. Police were called to the church at 6:22 p.m. for reports of an active shooter.

Authorities said Smith was sitting alone and Rainey, a longtime church member, approached him and invited him to sit at a table. The man refused to join them and then pulled out a pistol and began shooting.

Another church member, Jim Musgrove, hit the shooter with a chair, taking his gun.

“It was extremely critical to saving lives,” said Vestavia Hills Police Capt. Shane Ware. “In my opinion, he is a hero.”

One of Rainey’s daughters, author and speaker Melinda Rainey Thompson, released a statement about her father on behalf of the Rainey family.

“We are proud that in his last act on earth, he extended the hand of community and fellowship to a stranger, no matter the outcome. Bart Rainey was strong in faith and secure in the love of his family and friends,” Thompson said. “He made everyone he encountered feel special. We hope you will honor him by reaching out to those around you who are in need. We, his wife, his children and grandchildren, will miss him.”

A graduate of WA Berry High School, Yeager was a beloved mother, grandmother, world traveler, military wife of 30 years and a servant of Christ, according to her obituary.

“Sharon never met a stranger, and no matter the situation, she always exuded Southern class and charm.” according to his obituary. “She had a passion for reading and was a dedicated volunteer for her community and her church.”

The Episcopal Church of Alabama announced Monday that Gov. Kay Ivey has ordered flags to be lowered to half-staff for the next three days to honor the memory of Raines, Yeager and Pounds.

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