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Alabama Shooter Gets Life In Prison For Killing 3 At Church

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Robert Findlay Smith

An Alabama man was sentenced to life in prison without parole on Tuesday for the killing of three people at an Alabama church dinner. The shooter, 71-year-old Robert Findlay Smith, pleaded guilty to capital murder and waived his right to appeal, local station ABC 33/40 reported.

Smith was arrested on June 16, 2022, after shooting Walter “Bart” Rainey, 84, of Irondale; Sarah Yeager, 75, of Pelham; and Jane Pounds, 84, of Hoover.

They were killed during a potluck dinner at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Vestavia Hills, a community just southeast of Birmingham.

According to court documents, Police responded to St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Vestavia Hills, one of Alabama’s two most populous cities, on a report of an active shooter. There were about 25 people at the “Boomers Potluck,” including Smith, who had previously attended the church and at least one of the dinners.

“Smith was sitting alone, and a longtime church member approached him and invited him to sit at a table, said the Rev. Doug Carpenter, who founded the church in 1973 and retired in 2005. But Smith refused to join them,” the station reported.

Prosecutors said Smith then pulled a handgun and shot three people.

Jim Musgrove, a church member, hit the shooter with a chair and wrestled the gun away from him.

Rainey was pronounced dead at the scene. Yeager and Pounds were taken to a hospital where they later died.

“This type of senseless murder of three innocent people is certainly a case our office would typically try in front of a jury and seek the death penalty, however, that was not the wish of the three families in this case,” District Attorney Danny Carr said. “After much discussion, thought and prayer, the families were unanimous that they would prefer a plea of guilty to capital murder and a life without parole sentence.”

Watch the report below from ABC 33/40

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