‘Devil’ pensioner shoots three people dead at church dinner after refusing food

Three elderly people have died after a 'devil' pensioner opened fire at a church dinner.

Robert Smith, 70, is suspected of fatally shooting two 84-year-olds and a 75-year-old during a potluck event at St Stephen's Episcopal Church in the town of Vestavia Hills, Alabama, USA.

Local reports say the alleged gunman had 'occasionally' attended services at the community church.

Church founder Douglas Carpenter told WBRC FOX6 that one of the victims, Bart Rainey, had approached Smith after noticing that he was sat alone.

After the man refused his suggestion to join a group at the table, Bart's wife Linda then asked if he would like to have food brought over to him.

Smith rejected this offer as well and shortly afterwards pulled out a handgun and started shooting, killing three of the attendees including Bart.

His violent spree only ended when he was hit with a chair and restrained by a man named Jim Musgrove, who was later described by police as a "hero" whose actions were "extremely critical in saving lives".

Mr Rainey is meanwhile said to have died in his wife's arms inside the church while she spoke "words of comfort" to him. Linda survived the attack.

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A tribute to Bart posted online by daughter Melinda Rainey praised him for his final act of kindness, saying: "We are proud that in his last act on earth, he extended the hand of community and fellowship to a stranger, regardless of the outcome.

"We also feel a sense of peace that his last hours were spent in one of his favourite places on earth, St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, a place that welcomes everyone with love.”

Robert Smith was arrested shortly after the shooting and has since been charged with capital murder.

Police Capt. Shane Ware of Vestavia Hills Police Department said "past interactions" involving the suspect and other members of the church are "currently still being investigated by numerous agencies".

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