Multiple people shot at Alabama church, suspect held

Police said the shooting took place Thursday night at Saint Stephens Episcopal Church in the Birmingham suburb of Vestavia Hills.

VESTAVIA HILLS, Ala. — A lone suspect shot at a meeting of a small group at a suburban church near one of Alabama’s major cities Thursday night, fatally injuring two people and injuring a third before being taken into custody, authorities said.

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

“From what we can gather from the circumstances of that evening, a lone suspect entered a gathering of a small church group and began shooting. Three people were shot. Two people have died. One person is being treated at a local hospital for an undisclosed injury,” Ware said at a news conference late Thursday.

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

At a previous briefing, he initially said one person had died and two were wounded in hospital.

He has since declined to identify the suspect or victims or give any further details of the attack and said 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 stayed for hours after dark, with yellow police tape cordoning off the church complex and riot police and fire engines with flashing lights blocking the way to the church. Nearby people crowded and prayed.

Rev. Kelley Hudlow, an episcopal priest in the diocese of Alabama, told WBRC that the church and community were stunned by the shooting.

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

She added that the church is receiving messages of support from the US and around the world. “We need everyone out there. Pray, think, meditate and send love to this community as we will need everything,” she said.

The church’s website listed a “boomers potluck” for Thursday evening. “There will be no program, just eat and have time for community,” said the flyer.

The news agency said two wounded were taken to UAB hospital in Birmingham – before police reported one of them had died.

It was the latest in a series of deadly shootings that have rocked the nation. Thousands of people rallied across the United States and the National Mall in Washington, DC on Saturday to reiterate calls for stricter gun control measures following the recent deadly mass shootings from Buffalo, New York to Uvalde, Texas. Survivors of mass shootings and other gun violence incidents have also campaigned for lawmakers, testifying on Capitol Hill this month.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey issued a statement lamenting the shocking and tragic loss of life at the church. Though she said she was glad to hear the suspect was in custody, she added, “It should never happen — in a church, in a store, in town, or anywhere.”

Vestavia Hills is a residential community southeast of Birmingham, one of Alabama’s two most populous cities. Multiple people shot at Alabama church, suspect held

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