The third gunshot victim, an 84-year-old woman whose family requested her name be withheld, died Friday at a hospital, Vestavia Hills police said.
The suspect, identified Friday evening as Robert Findlay Smith, had occasionally attended the church and was at the dinner there when he pulled out a handgun and started firing, according to Ware.
Someone at the event “subdued the suspect and held him down until law enforcement arrived,” said Ware, who said police were called at 6:22 p.m.
“The person that subdued him is a hero,” Ware said.
The office of the Jefferson County District Attorney said Friday evening warrants were issued against Smith for the capital murder of two or more persons. He is being held without bail in county jail. CNN has been unable to determine if Smith has an attorney.
Investigators believe the suspect acted alone, and they are trying to determine the motive, Ware said.
Authorities were searching a home connected to the shooting, police said in a Facebook post Friday.
‘Pillars of our community,’ rector says of three victims
“These are the pillars of our community, and I cannot begin to fathom how painful this is for our entire church, and the larger community,” Burruss, the church’s rector, wrote.
A prayer vigil was scheduled for late Friday morning at nearby Saint Luke’s Episcopal Church.
Former Sen. Doug Jones lives in the neighborhood where the church is situated. The shooting is stunning and tragic, he told CNN’s Nadia Romero on Friday.
“It goes to show that no community is immune from this kind of gun violence that we see playing out across the country. No one is immune,” said Jones, a Democrat who represented Alabama from January 2018 to January 2021.
“It was heartbreaking … to have been at activities at this church. We’ve lived in this neighborhood … 27 years now, and it is just something that really hits home to everybody,” he said.
“We are praying for healing and safety for all those who have been impacted and affected, and also knowing this is a traumatic thing that has happened to our community, not just our church, but this community here,” Hudlow said. “What we need is for this community to do what it’s really good at, which is coming together to take of each other.”
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey sent her condolences.
“I am glad to hear the shooter is in custody,” Ivey said. “This should never happen — in a church, in a store, in the city, or anywhere. We continue to closely monitor the situation.”
CNN’s JamielLynch, Raja Razek, Jade Gordon, Andy Rose and Aya Elamroussi contributed to this report.