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Missionary in serious but stable condition after being shot multiple times

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — An 18-year-old missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is hospitalized in serious but stable condition after being shot multiple times at the Birmingham Stake Center.

“There were just several missionaries and then some friends that were there playing church ball and having some gospel discussions. Just a normal evening,” said Barry Sadler, stake president of the Birmingham Alabama Stake, which includes eight congregations and about 3,000 members of the Church.

Sadler said it’s normal for missionaries to spend time fellowshipping people interested in learning more about their religion.

Friday night was no exception, until a stranger allegedly walked into the Church building.

“It’s a really nice area. Our stake center is in a really good neighborhood, so it was really shocking that this happened,” Sadler said.

According to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, the man walked into a stake center near the city of Vestavia Hills, which is south of Birmingham. The suspect went to the Church gym where he found a small group, including three missionaries, playing basketball. Shortly after, deputies said the suspect opened fire.

“You think of churches as being places of security — a place of peace and worship and where there can be love and kindness and respect — and so, it’s shocking that it has happened,” Sadler said.

According to Sadler, there were no Church members present, just missionaries and people interested in learning about the church.

In a statement, the Church said the group included three missionaries, among them 18-year-old Elder Michael Fauber of Dayton, Ohio.

At about 8:30 p.m., it appears Fauber spoke with the suspect, and a few moments later, the man shot him multiple times.

The suspect fled the scene and Fauber was rushed to the hospital where he went into surgery.

“My heart goes out to Elder Fauber and his family,” Sadler said. “We would invite all to keep them in their prayers.”

Fauber is part of the Alabama Birmingham Mission.

Leading the mission is Chad Allred and his wife, Melanie Allred, from Erda, Utah.

A photo of Elder Michael Fauber the first day he arrived in the Alabama Birmingham Mission. (Courtesy: The Fauber family)

According to Sadler, Fauber is one of about 20-24 full-time missionaries serving in the stake.

“We have some great missionaries in our stake. We love them and are just very concerned about them — about Elder Fauber and the others that have been impacted,” Sadler said.

Sadler said no one else was injured.

Church services are expected to resume Sunday as they process what the Church calls a “senseless act of violence.”

“We want to push forward with faith and hope. The Savior brings peace, and we believe that he can bring healing to those impacted by this,” Sadler said.

Elder Fauber’s parents flew in to be with him Saturday night.

Sadler said they’re grateful for and continue welcoming prayers for Elder Fauber and his family, as well as the other missionaries and their friends who witnessed the shooting.

As for the suspect, deputies say he remains on the loose.

He is described as follows:

  • Height: between 6’4″ and 6’7″
  • Physique: thin build, approximately 190-200 pounds
  • Appearance: light brown skin
  • Age: mid-20’s

The motive remains under investigation.

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