Two fatally shot at Alabama church in latest US gun attack

Assault follows a string of high-profile mass shootings that has sparked the latest push for national reforms.

Alabama church shooting
Church members console each other after a shooting at the Saint Stephen's Episcopal Church in Vestavia Hills, Alabama [Butch Dill/The Associated Press]

A gunman fatally shot two people in a suburban church in the southern US state of Alabama, authorities have said, in the latest in a string of high-profile gun attacks in the country that have led to a renewed call for federal firearm controls.

The attack on Thursday night at Saint Stephen’s Episcopal Church in the Birmingham suburb of Vestavia Hills also left a third person wounded, according to Police Captain Shane Ware.

Ware said the gunman was arrested after police received an 18:20 ET (22:20 GMT) report of an active shooter at the scene, adding that there was no further threat to the community. The identity of the attacker and any possible motive were not immediately released.

The church’s website listed an event described as a “Boomers Potluck” during the time of the attack. “There will be no program, simply eat and have time for fellowship,” the notice said.

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Alabama Governor Kay Ivey issued a statement late on Thursday condemning what she called the shocking and tragic loss of life.

“This should never happen – in a church, in a store, in the city or anywhere,” she wrote.

The attack follows a string of gun killings in the US, including in May the massacre of 19 children and two teachers at a primary school in Uvalde, Texas, and the killing of 10 people by a racist gunman in Buffalo, New York. Both attackers wielded semi-automatic assault rifles in those attacks. There have been 268 mass shootings in the US so far in 2022, according to the Gun Violence Archive.

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The US has also seen several attacks on places of worship in recent years, including an attack on Taiwanese parishioners at a church in southern California in May in which one man was fatally shot.

In 2015, an avowed white supremacist killed nine people during Bible study at an historically Black church in Charleston, South Carolina.

In 2018, 11 people were fatally shot in an anti-Jewish attack on a synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

On Saturday, thousands of people rallied in the US and at the National Mall in Washington, DC, renewing calls for long-elusive federal gun control measures.

The next day, a group of bipartisan senators released a framework for the most substantial gun control legislation in decades.

Still, the plan, which currently has the support needed to overcome being blocked in the Senate, does not include several major reforms called for by gun control advocates, including a ban on assault weapons and an expansion of background checks for gun buyers.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies