VESTAVIA HILLS, Ala. (WIAT) — Vestavia Hills Police identified two victims in Thursday’s fatal church shooting during a news conference Friday morning.
According to police, 84-year-old Walter Rainey, of Irondale, and 75-year-old Sarah Yeager, of Pelham, were killed when a gunman opened fire at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church Thursday evening. A third victim, an 84-year-old Hoover woman, died Friday afternoon from injuries sustained in the shooting. Her identity has not been released at this time.
Police said the shooting happened at the church, located on Crosshaven Drive, shortly after 6:20 p.m.
Several law enforcement agencies responded to the area and initially announced one person, later identified as Rainey, had died as a result of the shooting. VHPD Captain Shane Ware announced a second victim, Yeager, had died just prior to 9:30 p.m.
Ware said the suspect, 70-year-old Robert Findlay Smith, was an occasional attendee at the church who walked into the facility where a potluck was taking place, began shooting and struck three victims.
Ware confirmed someone at the church event subdued the suspect until police arrived.
Smith is charged with capital murder in connection with the shooting. No motive for the shooting has been released at this time as police continue to investigate.
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey released a statement on the deadly shooting:
As we are learning about the shocking and tragic loss of a life at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Vestavia, we want to offer our prayers for the victim’s family, the injured and the entire church community. I am glad to hear the shooter is in custody. This should never happen — in a church, in a store, in the city or anywhere. We continue to closely monitor the situationGov. Kay Ivey