VESTAVIA HILLS, Ala. (WIAT) — The Vestavia Hills Police Department is investigating a shooting that left three people dead at a church Thursday night.
According to VHPD Captain Shane Ware, police responded to the St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in the 3700 block of Crosshaven Drive just after 6:20 p.m. on reports of an active shooter.
Multiple law enforcement agencies responded to the area. Authorities initially announced that one person had died and two were suffering from injuries. But then just before 9:30 p.m., Ware said a second victim had died. The third victim, unidentified, died from her injuries Friday afternoon.
A preliminary investigation by VHPD suggests that the suspect, 70-year-old Robert Findlay Smith, had walked into the building where a group of people were meeting. The suspect then began shooting and struck three victims. The suspect was later taken into custody and authorities say there is no threat to the community at this time.
Smith is charged with capital murder in connection with the shooting.
According to the church’s Facebook page, there was a potluck scheduled at the church Thursday evening.
The Mountain Brook Police Department said they were assisting with the investigation.
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
Vestavia Hills Mayor Ashley Curry offered his own statement around 10:15 p.m. giving condolences to the victims and thanks to first responders.
“With the tragic news that has broken this evening, I offer my heartfelt condolences to the victims of this evening’s shooting at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church,” Mayor Curry said. “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.”
Vestavia Hills Police held a news conference Friday morning identifying the victims in Thursday’s shooting as Walter Rainey, an 84-year-old man from Irondale & Sarah Yeager, a 75-year-old woman from Pelham.