Man charged with capital murder in Alabama church shooting

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A 70-year-old man accused of shooting three people during a potluck dinner at an Alabama church has been charged with murder.

About 25 people had gathered for the “Boomers Potluck” held on June 16 at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Vestavia Hills, an affluent suburb of Birmingham. Among those in attendance was Robert Findlay Smith, who had attended several services at the House of Worship and at least one previous potluck dinner.

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Doug Doug Carpenter, who founded the church in 1973 and retired in 2005, told AL.com Smith that he was sitting alone that night and that an old parishioner approached him and invited him to sit at another table. The 70-year-old refused, drawing a pistol and firing several rounds until another participant hit him with a chair and wrestled the firearm from his hands, authorities said.

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Three people were hit in the gunfire, including 84-year-old Walter “Bart” Rainey, who was pronounced dead at the scene. The other two victims, 75-year-old Sarah Yeager and 84-year-old Jane Pounds, were rushed to a hospital, where they later succumbed to their injuries.

A Jefferson County grand jury indicted Smith in connection with the shooting earlier this week, according to court records released Friday.

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“It is still very early in the prosecution of this case,” District Attorney Danny Carr told the news channel.

“We will work closely with the families of those who died that terrible day, as well as with the Vestavia Police, as we make progress to hold Smith accountable.”

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