Two people were killed Thursday evening when a gunman opened fire in an Episcopal church near Birmingham, Alabama, during a church potluck supper.
A third person shot in the incident remains alive, police said. There was no immediate word on that victim’s condition.
The shooting suspect is in custody, according to AL.com.
The incident took place shortly before 6:30 p.m. at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Vestavia Hills, a Birmingham suburb. A “Boomers Potluck” supper had begun at 5 p.m.
“From what we’ve gathered from the circumstances of this evening, a lone suspect entered a small group church meeting and began shooting,” Vestavia Hills Police Capt. Shane Ware said Thursday night, according to USA Today.
“We know of no additional threat to either the community of Vestavia Hills or our neighboring community of Mountain Brook,” Ware did say.
“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,” Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said in a statement.
“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 situation.”
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The Rev. John Burruss, the church’s rector, is in Greece on a church pilgrimmage. He said he will return as soon as possible.
“I’m deeply moved by the radical support of love from many people reaching out all over the country, our clergy, our first responders who are gathered now with the families,” he said in a video posted to the church’s Facebook page.
Shooting at an Alabama church leaves two dead and one in hospital https://t.co/0ZA2QTtuma
— Guardian Australia (@GuardianAus) June 17, 2022
“I ask your prayers for our community, especially those who are injured and the families of the deceased. These are the pillars of our community, and I cannot begin to fathom how painful this is for our entire church, and the larger community. There is much that will be shared in the coming days and weeks as we look to gather and process this tragic event,” Burruss wrote in a statement.
“I know many of you have been asking what we can do. We can pray and we can gather. People have gathered as followers of Christ for 2000 years because of the belief that God’s outstretched arms can reach all of humanity through pain and the most unfathomable loss.
“We gather because we know that love is the most powerful force in this world, and tonight, and in the days, months, and years that come, will hold onto that truth to know that Christ’s love will always shine.”
“I pray for God’s peace which surpasses all understanding by keeping our minds and hearts in the love of Christ Jesus,” Burruss wrote.
I’m a block down From the church shooting in Vestavia Hills AL.
“I’m overwhelmed. And saddened. I’ve dealt with a lot of sadness but never anything like this. Just unprovoked:” Huey Gardner, rector at St Mary’s on the Highlands, a sister church. pic.twitter.com/2h5shqqmAb
— Ruth Serven Smith (@RuthServenSmith) June 17, 2022
The Rev. Kelley Hudlow, missioner for clergy formation for the diocese, said the situation was frightening.
“You don’t think it’s going to happen here, and it’s scary,” Hudlow said, according to NBC.
“It is shocking that it happened here, but we are going to love each other and take care of each other and find our way forward,” she said, per AL.com.
“We are praying for the people who have been hurt, the doctors and nurses that are helping them, and we are also praying for this community that is going to be shocked and hurt by this.”