Skip to Content

A third victim has died after a shooting at Alabama church where the suspect was an occasional attendee

ABC News / YouTube

  (CNN) -- A 70-year-old man who shot dead three senior citizens at an Alabama church group's meeting Thursday evening was subdued by someone else at the event until police arrived, authorities said Friday.

The suspect, who is in custody, shot dead Walter Rainey, 84, and Sarah Yeager, 75, during a small group's potluck dinner at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Vestavia Hills outside Birmingham, police said.

The third gunshot victim, an 84-year-old woman whose family requested her name be withheld, died Friday at a hospital, Vestavia Hills police said.

The suspect, identified Friday evening as Robert Findlay Smith, had occasionally attended the church and was at the dinner there when he pulled out a handgun and started firing, according to Ware.

Someone at the event "subdued the suspect and held him down until law enforcement arrived," said Ware, who said police were called at 6:22 p.m.

"The person that subdued him is a hero," Ware said.

The office of the Jefferson County District Attorney said Friday evening warrants were issued against Smith for the capital murder of two or more persons. He is being held without bail in county jail. CNN has been unable to determine if Smith has an attorney.

Investigators believe the suspect acted alone, and they are trying to determine the motive, Ware said.

Authorities were searching a home connected to the shooting, police said in a Facebook post Friday.

The shooting is the latest in a US house of worship and came on the eve of Friday's seventh anniversary of the massacre at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

deadly mass shooting last month at a Taiwanese church service in Southern California -- along with mass shootings at an elementary school in Texas and a New York supermarket -- have drawn more political attention to gun violence. A bipartisan group of senators has announced an agreement in principle for gun safety legislation which would address mental health resources, school safety and access to firearms.

Article Topic Follows: News

Jump to comments ↓



KYMA KECY is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content