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70-year-old arrested in Alabama church shooting

Church members after the shooting. Associated Press/Photo by Butch Dill

70-year-old arrested in Alabama church shooting

Worshipers gathered Sunday at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Vestavia Hills, Ala., where just days earlier a man opened fire at a potluck, killing three people. The Rev. John Burruss reminded congregants of how Jesus ate and drank at the Last Supper with Judas, who later betrayed him. Witnesses to the shooting have said that the suspect, a 70-year-old man, sat alone at the “Boomers Potluck” despite multiple people inviting him to join their table. “There is not a doubt in my mind that Bart and Sharon and Jane would invite their Judas again and again to sit down and share a meal, because they knew God's unconditional love,” Burrus said, using the first names that the three victims went by.

Did the victims know the shooter? Police said Robert Findlay Smith, who is in custody on capital murder charges, had attended worship and several gatherings for churchgoers in the Baby Boomer generation. Authorities have not commented on a motive in the shooting. One of the people at the potluck subdued the shooter before he could hurt anyone else and held him until the police arrived.

Dig deeper: Read A.S. Ibrahim’s column in WORLD Opinions on the deadliest place in the world for believers: Nigeria.

Lynde Langdon

Lynde is WORLD’s executive editor for news. She is a graduate of World Journalism Institute, the Missouri School of Journalism, and the University of Missouri–St. Louis. Lynde resides with her family in Wichita, Kan.


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