Prosecutor identifies Alabama church shooting suspect
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — As a drone buzzed overhead Friday morning, a day after a fatal church shooting in Vestavia Hills, Alabama, law enforcement focused their attention on the home of a registered gun dealer.
The home in Vestavia Hills, located on Sicard Hollow Road, belongs to Robert F. Smith, who Jefferson County DA Danny Carr said has now been charged with capital murder.
Smith is accused of opening fire at a potluck in St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, killing three. He is being held without bond, authorities said.
Smith’s home is registered with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, as the primary address of Original Magazines, a business with a federal firearms license. The license is valid until 2025, according to ATF records.
Law enforcement officials had initially refused to name the suspected church shooter, instead identifying him only as a 71-year-old white man. The suspect had been held at the Vestavia Hills police department since the incident occurred.
At a press conference held Friday at Vestavia Hills Police Department, law enforcement officials identified two of the victims as Walter Rainey, 84, of Irondale, and Sarah Yeager, 75, of Pelham. An additional victim, an 84-year-old woman, was also shot and later died, although her family has asked that her name not be released publicly.
“This is something you never expect to happen in your community,” Kelley Hudlow with the Episcopal diocese said after the shooting. “This happens other places, and you don’t think it will happen here in the Birmingham area. So it is shocking. The one thing we know is that St. Stephen’s is a church community and is built on love and grace and prayer, and they are going to come together.”