Shooting Leaves 2 Dead At a Church Near Birmingham, Alabama

The pain of the shootings is heard before the US Congress. 1:14

(WABNEWS) — Two people were killed and another was injured Thursday in a shooting at a church in suburban Birmingham, Alabama, police said.

A suspect, who was not publicly identified, is in custody, said Capt. Shane Ware of the Vestavia Hills Police Department. The surviving victim is being treated at a hospital for undisclosed injuries, he said.

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The shooting at St Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Vestavia Hills was reported around 6:22 p.m. local time, according to Ware.

According to him church calendar, an event called “Boomers Potluck” was scheduled at the same time as the shooting, but it was not clear from the news conference if the violence occurred there. It’s also unclear how many people were at the event when the shots were fired.

The shooting occurred in the suburb of Vestavia Hills, about 9 kilometers from Birmingham.

Agents from the FBI, the US Marshals Service and the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, Tobacco and Explosives (ATF) were dispatched to the scene, Ware said. He did not answer questions at any of the three media briefings on the shooting and urged anyone with additional information to contact him. Vestavia Hills Police Department.

The Rev. Kelley Hudlow, Missionary for Clergy Formation for the Diocese of Alabama, told WABNEWS affiliate WVTMthat the community needs to rise in healing through prayer and unity.

“We are currently praying for healing and safety for all those who have been impacted and affected, and we also know that this is a traumatic thing that has happened to our community, not just our church, but this community here,” Hudlow said. “What we need is for this community to do what they’re really good at, which is come together to help each other.”

Church members held hands in a circle and prayed in a nearby parking lot, and several people seemed distraught over what happened, WABNEWS affiliate WBRC reported..

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey sent her condolences.

“I’m glad to hear the shooter is in custody,” Ivey said. “This should never happen: in a church, in a store, in the city or anywhere. We continue to closely monitor the situation.”

The shooting is the latest at a place of worship amid a nationwide debate about firearms and their availability. Last month, six people were shot, one fatally, at a Taiwanese church service in Southern California.

The mass shootings at an elementary school in South Texas that claimed the lives of 19 children and two teachers and at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, in a racist attack on the black community that killed 10 people, have drawn a greater political attention in the last several weeks towards armed violence.

In the wake of such vicious attacks, a bipartisan group of senators announced a compromise in principle for gun safety legislation that aims to address mental health resources, school safety, and access to firearms.

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