The mug shot of the suspect in Thursday’s church shooting near Birmingham, Alabama, showed the black eye the man received from a bystander who helped stop the attack.
The attack occurred when a man identified as 70-year-old Robert Findlay Smith walked into St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Vestavia Hills, Alabama, while members were gathered for a potluck diner and opened fire, Fox News reported.
Smith allegedly shot two 84-year-olds and one 75-year-old victim before being confronted by a church member in his 70s, who rushed toward Smith with a folding chair in hand.
“He hit him with a folding chair, wrestling him to the ground, took the gun from him and hit him in the head with his own gun,” the church’s retired pastor, the Rev. Doug Carpenter, said, according to Fox.
This is Robert Findlay Smith, charged with capital murder in the Alabama church shooting. pic.twitter.com/Mnr4QuFpcw
— carol robinson (@RobinsonCarol) June 17, 2022
Eighty-four-year-old Walter Rainey died at the scene, police confirmed in a Facebook post.
Seventy-five-year-old Sarah Yeager and 84-year-old Jane Pounds died after being taken to a hospital, according to the police department and WSFA-TV.
Smith was arrested and charged with capital murder, Fox reported. He is being held without bond.
Smith was a gun dealer registered with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, according to WIAT-TV in Birmingham.
According to the anti-gun website The Trace, Smith received a warning letter from the ATF in 2018 for missing inventory items and incomplete record-keeping.
Before the shooting, Smith would occasionally come to events at St. Stephen’s, according to Carpenter.
Church members had reportedly invited Smith to join them at the Thursday potluck. Smith turned down those invitations.
“Why would a guy who’s been around for a while suddenly decide he would go to a supper and kill somebody?” Carpenter asked. “It doesn’t make sense.”
St. Stephen’s current rector, the Rev. John Burruss, responded to the tragedy in an email to parishioners.
“I know many of you have been asking what we can do. We can pray and we can gather,” Burruss wrote.
“People have gathered as followers of Christ for 2000 years because of the belief that God’s outstretched arms can reach all of humanity through pain and the most unfathomable loss.
“We gather because we know that love is the most powerful force in this world, and tonight, and in the days, months, and years that come, will hold onto that truth to know that Christ’s love will always shine.”
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.