Two people were killed and a third injured in a church shooting in a suburb of Birmingham, Alabama, on Thursday night, police said. A suspect, who has not been identified, is in custody.
The Vestavia Hills Police Department said it received a call from an active shooter at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church at approximately 6:22 pm local time.
On Thursday night, Vestavia Hills Police Captain Shane Ware told reporters that three people had been shot. Two died and a third was being treated in a hospital. There was no initial word on this person’s condition.
According to Ware, the suspect entered the church during a group meeting and opened fire. The church had posted on its website that it was holding a dinner between 5pm and 7pm.
Ware did not provide a possible motive or further details about the circumstances of the shooting, although he said police believe there is no longer a threat to the community. There is no information on how the suspect was arrested.
The FBI and the US Marshals Service were among several federal and local agencies that participated in the investigation.
The Rev. Kelley Hudlow of the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama told reporters, “It happens in other places… You just don’t think it’s going to happen here in the Birmingham area. And so it’s shocking. But the only thing we know is that St. Stephen’s Church is a community built on love, prayers and grace, and they will come together”.
“We’re connected to a network of churches around the world,” he added, “and so we’re getting messages from people across the United States and around the world praying for this community tonight.”
Alabama Governor Kay Ivey released a statement calling the shooting “shocking and tragic”, adding, “This should never happen – in a church, in a store, in town or anywhere.”
The FBI, US Marshals Service and the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, Tobacco and Explosives were among several federal and local agencies that participated in the investigation.