Alabama church shooting: 2 dead, 1 injured, 1 in custody after active shooter call
VESTAVIA HILLS, Ala. - Two people are dead and one other injured after a shooting at a church just outside of Birmingham on Thursday evening.
Police said they got a call of an active shooter around 6:22 p.m. CDT at the St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Vestavia Hills, Alabama.
Vestavia Hills police said officers arrived to find three people shot during a small group meeting at the church. One of the victims was being treated at UAB Hospital late Thursday evening. Their conditions were not immediately known.
Police said the identities of the victims will not be immediately released.
Police said the lone suspect is in custody and there is no threat to the community.
Multiple local law enforcement agencies were at the scene assisting as well as state resources, the FBI, ATF, and U.S. Marshals Service.
Emergency crews surround a church just southeast of Birmingham, Alabama after a report of a shooting on June 16, 2022. (WBRC)
The church’s website listed a "Boomers Potluck" for Thursday night. "There will be no program, simply eat and have time for fellowship," the flyer read.
"This is something you never expect to happen in your community. This happens in other places, you don't expect it to happen in the Birmingham community" the Rev. Kelley Hudlow with the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama said.
The church representatives said they want to blanket the community in prayer.
"We start with prayer, we're gonna cover this in prayer. We need everybody out there whatever your belief system to send love and pray for this community because they're gonna need it," the Rev. Hudlow said.
Members of the community gathered in the parking lot of a nearby Publix to do just that. They formed a large circle, holding hands, and offering prayers for those involved. Many were fighting back tears.
Police surround a church in Vestavia Hills, Alabama after a report of an active shooter incident on June 16, 2022. (WBRC)
Alabama Governor Kay Ivey released a statement about the 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 situation."
Police are not expected to release any further information until 9:30 a.m. CDT Friday.
Vestavia Hills is located in the Birmingham area, about 5 miles southeast of the city.
The shooting is part of a wave of highly-scrutinized gun violence in the U.S. On May 14, a gunman killed 10 Black people at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York. Another racist attack happened when a gunman attacked Taiwanese parishioners at a church in Southern California. The following week, a gunman massacred 19 children and two adults at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.
On Saturday thousands of people rallied in the U.S. and at the National Mall in Washington, D.C., to renew calls for stricter gun control measures. Survivors of mass shootings and other incidents of gun violence lobbied legislators and testified on Capitol Hill earlier this month.
This story is being reported out of Atlanta. The Associated Press contributed.