Vestavia Hills church shooting at Alabama Saint Stephen’s Episcopal Church sees 71yr old regular congregant shoot dead 2 attendees, injure another during potluck dinner. No known motive.
And yet again. It never stops. A 71-year-old man opened fire at an Alabama church Thursday night, killing two people and wounding another during a mass shooting, as attendees gathered for a potluck dinner.
Vestavia Hills Police Captain Shane Ware during a Friday press conference said the shooter, a ‘white’ male was ‘an occasional attendee’ of Saint Stephen’s Episcopal Church, where the shooting took place shortly after 6 p.m.
The victims were identified as Walter Rainey, 84 and Sarah Yeager, 75. A third victim, Jane Pounds, 84, of Hoover, remained hospitalized Friday morning.
Ware did not specify how many times or where exactly the seniors had been shot, nor did he reveal the extent of the survivor’s injuries. The three victims were all white.
A small group of people had gathered at the church for a ‘Boomer’s Potluck’ Thursday evening. At some point during the gathering, Ware said the suspect started shouting before pulling out a gun and firing.
VESTAVIA HILLS CHURCH SHOOTING: Cahaba Heights residents Brendan McCalla and Hudson Brown give their reactions to the deadly shooting at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church. (🎥: @Card1Reports ) pic.twitter.com/YgfGHi1hA4
— CBS 42 (@CBS_42) June 17, 2022
‘Shocking and horrible’: Deadly shooting at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church rocks Vestavia Hills: https://t.co/QPHOxh4aFv pic.twitter.com/QxBgXPKpQJ
— #WVTM13 (@WVTM13) June 17, 2022
Possible massacre averted by hero attendee
What could have been a full blown massacre was preempted when a Good Samaritan risked their life and contained the suspect.
‘Another attendee at the event subdued the suspect and held him down until law enforcement arrived,’ Ware said.
‘He undoubtedly saved lives,’ Ware said, and ‘in my opinion, was a hero.’
The captain declined to speculate on the church shooting.
Ware said the suspect was held pending capital murder warrants, expected to be issued later Friday by the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office. At that time, he said, the suspect’s name will be released.
Vestavia Hills Mayor Ashley Curry praised the work of law enforcement from Vestavia Hills and the surrounding area, saying the incident was handled “in an exemplary manner.”
‘Vestavia Hills is a close-knit, resilient, loving community,’ Curry said. ‘Our prayers go out to the victims and families affected by this senseless act of violence.’
“We’re gonna need a lot of love.” Rev. Kelley Hudlow with the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama at the scene of a shooting at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Vestavia Hills: https://t.co/QPHOxh4aFv pic.twitter.com/p8QwPpEioE
— #WVTM13 (@WVTM13) June 17, 2022
What keeps causing mass shootings and gun violence in the U.S?
The shooting is the latest in an ongoing episode of ongoing gun violence events in the US. On May 14, a white gunman attacked a supermarket in a Black neighborhood in Buffalo, New York, killing 10 people. The gunman in self recorded video as he set about killing his victims, openly admitted seeking to kill black people.
The next day, a shooter opened fire on Taiwanese congregants in a church in Laguna Beach, California, killing one person and injuring five others. Mental illness was cited as a possible reason for the shooting.
And there was more to come less than a week later when on May 24, a gunman shot up an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, killing 19 children and 2 adults. A shooting that linked to a young male’s sense of emasculation and lack of purpose. A recurring theme among shooters.
Then, over Memorial Day Weekend, more than 300 shooting incidents took place, and over 130 people were shot and killed. Days later, three people were killed when a shooter opened fire at a Maryland factory. Earlier this month, four people were killed in a shooting at a hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma, after patient took umbrage with his surgeon, resorting to violence.
There were many more shootings in between each of these incidents. Gun violence in the US is a public health crisis. It is a leading cause of premature death in the country, responsible for more than 38,000 deaths annually. As of June 17, at least 20,104 people have died from gun violence this year, according to data from the Gun Violence Archive. Efforts to curb and address the ‘social’ phenomenon continue to be railroaded amid America’s mantra of ‘freedom to bear arms.’