2 dead, 1 injured in shooting at Alabama church

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Authorities said 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.

Police said 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.

Vestavia Hills police said the suspect, a white male, was an occasional attendee of the church. Police said he is being held in the city jail and is facing capital murder charges. Police said the man’s identity will be released once warrants are signed.

Vestavia Hills Mayor Ashley Curry issued the following statement:

“With the tragic news that has broken this eve-ning, 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 event was a “Boomers Potluck” gathering inside the church, according to messages posted on the church’s Facebook page by the Rev. John Bur-russ. He said he was in Greece on a pilgrimage with a group of members and trying to get back to Ala-bama.

“More than anything, I ask your prayers for our community, especially those who are injured and the families of the deceased. These are the pillars of our community, and I cannot begin to fathom how painful this is for our entire church, and the larger community,” he wrote.

The Rev. Rebecca Bridges, the church’s associate rector, led an online prayer service on the church’s Facebook page Friday morning. She prayed not only for the victims and church members who witnessed the shooting, but also “for the person who perpe-trated the shooting.”

“We pray that you will work in that person’s heart,” Bridges said. “And we pray that you will help us to forgive.”

Bridges, who is currently in London, alluded to other recent mass shootings as she prayed that elected officials in Washington and Alabama “will see what has happened at St.—AP