Police announced on Friday that a “hero” church-goer subdued an active shooter who killed two people and injured another at an Alabama church on Thursday night.
The lone suspect, who was an “occasional attendee of the church” and a 71-year-old white male, attended a dinner at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church on Thursday night, Vestavia Hills Police Department Captain Shane Ware stated during a press conference on Friday morning. The suspect began shooting at some point with a handgun, striking three victims, until he was stopped by a church-goer.
“Another attendee at the event subdued the suspect, and held him down until law enforcement arrived,” Ware reported. Ware referred to the person who subdued the suspect as a “hero,” noting that the act of heroism was “extremely critical in saving lives.”
Police say someone at the church event subdued the suspect. VHPD Captain Shane Ware called that person a hero. Officers aren’t identifying the suspect until warrants are signed @CBS_42 pic.twitter.com/VdUzBCPUJ7
— Michael Clark (@mclarkreports) June 17, 2022
Governor Kay Ivey (R-AL) released a statement after the deadly shooting, saying, “This should never happen,” The Daily Wire reported.
“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,” Ivey said. “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.”
When a reporter asked Ware if police knew what motivated the suspect, Ware said that “it is still being looked into by too many agencies.”
The victims were identified by Ware as Walter Rainey, an 84-year-old male; Sarah Yeager, a 75-year-old female; and an unnamed 84-year-old female. Rainey was deceased at the scene of the event, and Yeager passed away at UAB Hospital. The unnamed female is being treated at a local hospital currently. All of the victims were white.
The suspect is currently in custody at the Vestavia Hills Police Department and will remain there while warrants for capital murder are issued by the Jefferson County District Attorney’s office later on Friday.
“There is no threat to the community,” Ware stated during the press conference, adding that numerous agencies and detectives are actively investigating the case and still remain on scene at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church.
This shooting comes amid a number of other shootings that received national attention and led to calls for gun reform. Notably, in May, an 18-year-old gunman killed 10 people and wounded three in a Buffalo grocery store, allegedly targeting the establishment because of racial hatred and extremist ideology, and another 18-year-old killed 21 people and wounded 17 at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.
After these shootings, President Joe Biden called for clamping down on Americans’ Second Amendment rights during a speech.
“We need to ban assault weapons and high capacity magazines,” Biden said. “And if we can’t ban assault weapons, then we should raise the age to purchase them from 18 to 21, strengthen the background checks.”