Police identify suspect in Alabama church shooting

Police have identified the man arrested in connection to a shooting at an Alabama church earlier this week that left three people dead.

Robert Findlay Smith, 70, who was an occasional attendee of the church, was arrested on capital murder charges.

At least three people were shot at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Vestavia Hills, Alabama, on Thursday night, and all three victims have since succumbed to their injuries, according to police. Smith is charged in the slayings of Walter “Bart” Rainey, 84, of Irondale, Sarah Yeager, 75, of Pelham, and Jane Pounds, 84, of Hoover.

Parishioners were participating in a “Boomer’s Potluck Dinner” when the gunman opened fire. Jim Musgrove, a church member, hit the shooter with a chair and wrestled the gun away from him.

Smith is being held at the Jefferson County Jail with no bond.

Law enforcement radio communications during the active shooter situation indicated that police were familiar with the suspect, knowing where he lived and what he drove.

Authorities have not disclosed a motive in the shooting, and court records don’t list any prior violent crimes for Smith. He received a DUI in 2016, and went to driving school.

He pleaded guilty and received a $465 fine to DUI in Chattanooga on November 2005 case in which he was also charged with possession of a handgun while intoxicated. That charge was dropped.

Smith in 2008 sued Samford University and UAB police Officer Jeremy Burchfield, A UAB police officer who detained him on Samford’s campus. The suit said Smith was illegally detained in 2007 for carrying a firearm on campus and impersonating a police office by carrying a badge. He claimed in the suit there was no evidence of that and the allegations were fabricated by Samford and police.

His lawyer argued that “Many of Plaintiff’s customers are law enforcement personnel and merchants who sell firearms in Jefferson County and outside of Jefferson County throughout the state.”

He won a jury verdict with damages of $29,000 against Burchfield, per Penn Live.



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