VESTAVIA HILLS, Ala. (WIAT) — The Cahaba Heights community continues to mourn the loss of three members of Saint Stephen’s Episcopal Church, who were regulars at church services and events.
“When I see a fire engine or a police car go by, I always stop and pray,” Parishioner Noralyn Goddard said. “Little did I know that it was headed to my home.”
The news of Thursday’s shooting at the church brought Goddard back to the church’s entrance Friday to pay her respects.
“I wanted to come be as close as possible to my friends that we lost,” Goddard said.
She joins dozens of others who continue to lay flowers and signs of love in front of the church’s main sign, lifting the community up.
“I didn’t expect to see anybody here, but I’m glad to see so many people have come before me,” Goddard said.
She said all three of the victims were pillars of the church, but she was closest to 84-year-old Jane Pounds.
“We often say [during tragedies] ‘Wow this is a little too close to home’,” Goddard said. “Last night it was home. Our family was attacked and our family has been taken away from us.”
The City of Pelham said Thursday’s crime was unfathomable and senseless. According to a post on the city’s Facebook page, 75-year-old Sarah (Sharon) Yeager was a relative of Pelham’s first ever Mayor, Paul Yeager, Sr.
“I just sat there and stared at my phone. I could not believe the news I was hearing,” Irondale resident Brian Cocke said.
Cocke was 84-year-old Walter (Bart) Rainey’s next-door neighbor. He got the news in a text message from Rainey’s daughter.
“You hear about these shootings and you think, ‘oh, that’s far away that’s here, that’s there’, but when it happens locally and to someone you know it’s just devastating to a whole other level of shock,” Cocke said.
Prayers will prevail as this community continues to heal.
“There will definitely be a void without him,” Cocke said. “I just pray for his family that they can find some kind of understanding and peace.”
Goddard said the church is blessed to have the leadership that it has.
“We know they will lead us and guide us through the coming days and time,” Goddard said.
Church leaders sent out a newsletter Friday night saying they will have full access to the church this Sunday for regular worship services at 8 a.m., 10:15 a.m. and 5 p.m.