Three people were shot, two fatally, inside a small group meeting at a suburban Alabama church on Thursday evening, before a suspect was taken into custody, police said.
The shooting happened at Saint Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Vestavia Hills, Captain Shane Ware of the Vestavia Hills Police Department told a news conference.
“A lone suspect entered a small group church meeting, and began shooting,” he said.
Vestavia Hills is a city of some 40,000 people about seven miles southeast of Birmingham.
Ware said a suspect, who was not identified, was in custody following the attack. Police did not speculate on a motive for the rampage.
The Rev. Kelley Hudlow, an Episcopal priest in the Diocese of Alabama, told broadcast outlet WVTM-TV that the church and the community were stunned by the shooting.
“This is a traumatic thing that has happened to our community, not just the church,” Reverend Kelley Hudlow said in an interview.
The church’s website emphasizes its inclusivity, stating “Regardless if your story, history, economic status, race, gender, or orientation, you are invited to take part of all Sacraments of the Church and life in our community.”
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey issued a statement lamenting what she called the shocking and tragic loss of life at the church. Though she said she was glad to hear the suspect was in custody, she added, “This should never happen — in a church, in a store, in the city or anywhere.”
Vestavia Hills is a residential community just southeast of Birmingham, one of Alabama’s two most populous cities.