It’s been one week since a shooter took the lives of three attendants of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church’s “Boomers Potluck” in Vestavia Hills. Funeral services for Bart Rainey, Sarah Yeager and Jane Pounds took place Wednesday and Thursday, and in the days since their passing, a renewed conversation has been sparked in Birmingham concerning gun violence and the dramatic effects it’s having on communities around the country. UAB students are among the many Birmingham residents asking for answers, including how this could have been prevented.
“I feel like it was a preventable accident,” said Caleb Hill, a junior at UAB. “I saw on a news article that the guy who did it was a gun store owner, who apparently had guns that had gone missing before. They warned him, but that was it. Nothing more happened.”
The shooter, who was a federally licensed gun dealer, had received only minor warnings from federal authorities and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives concerning poor maintenance of his inventory.
“He had warning signs,” continued Hill. “They should have investigated more thoroughly.”
Other students are just doing what they can to grapple with the depravity of such a crime. “It was very sad, honestly,” said Ali Kesserwani, another junior at UAB. “It’s probably not going to change. That’s the even sadder part.”
Kesserwani felt particularly disturbed by the proximity of the incident to his own community. “I’m just surprised that it would happen in a place like Vestavia. It’s just one of those suburbs that’s known to be safe, so it is a little terrifying.”
The Vestavia Hills community came together in full support of the victims’ friends and families as funeral services took place on Wednesday and Thursday. “Unexpectedly, this has become a hopeful moment for our family and for everybody in this church today,” said Warner Thompson, grandson of Bart Rainey, in an interview with CBS 42. “A single senseless evil act has been drowned out and really lost among hundreds and hundreds of acts of kindness in the aftermath
Many UAB students echoed the overwhelming show of support for those affected by the tragedy. When asked what he would say if he could speak with those close to the victims, Kesserwani replied simply, “We are with you.”
“I feel very bad,” said Sara Nabi, another student at UAB. “I’m so sorry for [the families’]loss.”