Third Alabama church shooting victim dies as accused gunman faces capital murder charges

Deceased Alabama church shooting victims identified as man, 84, and two women, ages 75 and 84

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The third of three people shot during an Alabama church event has died, officials announced Friday afternoon. 

The victim was identified only as an 84-year-old White woman who was transported from the scene and died at a local hospital. 

"It is with great sadness that the Vestavia Hills Police Department reports the passing of the third shooting victim from Saint Stephen’s Episcopal Church," police officials announced. "The family of the victim askes (sic) that we do not release her name for reasons of privacy. Our thoughts and prayers continuously go out to the victims, their families and all who are affected by this tragic event."

Police responded just before 6:30 p.m. local time on Thursday to a report of an active shooter at the "Boomers Potluck" event at Saint Stephen’s Episcopal Church located on Crosshaven Drive in Vestavia Hills, Alabama. Three people were wounded. 

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Police have not yet released any information regarding the suspect’s motive, but were expected to release additional information later in the day on Friday.  The alleged gunman was allegedly an occasional attendee of the congregation who is believed to have acted alone, police said. 

The 70-year-old gunman, identified as Robert Findlay Smith, faces capital murder charges for allegedly shooting and killing three people, including an 84-year-old man, Walter Rainey, a 75-year-old woman, Sarah Yeager, Vestavia Hills Police Capt. Shane Ware previously said. WBRC-TV identified the third victim as Jane Pounds.

Ware said an event attendee subdued the suspect until law enforcement arrived and arrested him. The suspect remains in the custody of law enforcement pending charges. 

The police captain called the person who stopped the gunman a "hero."

Police investigate after a gunman opened fire at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Vestavia Hills, Alabama, leaving two people dead and one injured.

Police investigate after a gunman opened fire at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Vestavia Hills, Alabama, leaving two people dead and one injured. (Fox 6 WBRC)

"It was extremely critical in saving lives," Ware said. "I don't know how many people were in the meeting at the time of the event, but the person that subdued him is a hero."

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In a statement released Thursday, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey wrote: "This should never happen - in a church, in a store, in the city or anywhere."

Two people were killed and one other injured when a gunman opened fire at a church in Alabama on Thursday, June 16, 2022.

Two people were killed and one other injured when a gunman opened fire at a church in Alabama on Thursday, June 16, 2022. (Fox 6 WBRC)

"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."

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Vestavia Hills is located in central Alabama and is a suburb of Birmingham. 

Fox News' Paul Best contributed to this report.