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Alabama Church Shooting: Suspect Opens Fire On Girlfriend, Her Baby, and a Pastor During Service in East Selma Church

( [email protected] ) Sep 20, 2015 10:54 PM EDT
A 26-year-old man opened fire during a church service in Alabama on Sunday, wounding his girlfriend, her baby and a pastor before being subdued and arrested on attempted murder charges, a prosecutor said.
James Junior Minter, 26, of Selma, Alabama, was arrested and charged with three counts of attempted murder on September 20, 2015, the Selma Police Department said. Selma Police Department

A 26-year-old man opened fire during a church service in Alabama on Sunday, wounding his girlfriend, her baby and a pastor before being subdued and arrested on attempted murder charges, a prosecutor said.

The shooting rattled the congregation of Oasis Tabernacle Church in east Selma but was not believed to be racially motivated, said Dallas County District Attorney Michael Jackson.

"This was a domestic violence situation," Jackson said. "It's just a sad situation when people have to be on guard in their church."

In June, a black pastor and eight others were gunned down at a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina, by a white gunman who authorities allege targeted them because of their race.

The pastor in Sunday's shooting is white and the alleged gunman, James Minter, his girlfriend and the infant are black, Jackson said.

The prosecutor said Minter and his girlfriend had been having problems before Minter went into the church Sunday morning and began shooting. The pastor was shot as he intervened and tried to wrestle away Minter's gun, Jackson said.

Jackson said the mother was in critical condition after being shot in the face. 

Minter was jailed without bail on three counts of attempted murder, Jackson said.

According to a statement released by the Selma Police Department, the pastor was taken to a local emergency room for treatment, while the woman and baby were taken to a hospital in Birmingham. The victims are in stable condition. 

Jackson praised the pastor and members of the congregation for helping wrestle the gun away, the Associated Press reported. 

"A whole lot more people could have been shot," Jackson said. "They all played a heroic role."

Former Selma Mayor and Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church minister James Perkins visited the scene and said he paused service at Ebenezer to pray for the victims Sunday morning.

"It's hard to comprehend it, it's hard to understand it but a lot of people are struggling. A lot of people are stressed," Perkins said, the AP reported. "We walk by faith, not by sight. We still have to believe that there's goodness in most people."

Jackson said worshippers having to be alert and on guard in a place meant to be a sanctuary was a shameful commentary on society.

"We've reached the point where all churches are gonna have to have cameras and check for weapons," he said. "That's the way society is going now. It's the world we live in now."

Reuters contributed to the report.