Alleged Alabama church shooter's firearms business cited for multiple violations in 2018, documents show

Smith faces murder charges after allegedly walking into a church killing three.

June 21, 2022, 6:26 PM

The alleged shooter who killed three people in an Alabama church last week had multiple firearms violations against his federal firearms business in 2018, according to Bureau of Alcohol Firearms and Tobacco documents obtained by ABC News.

Robert Findley Smith allegedly failed to keep receipts of firearms he sold at his business.

"The Licensee failed to record the disposition of [redacted] firearms, of which [redacted] were reconciled and [redacted] was reported as missing inventory," the report from ATF said. Additionally, he was a repeat offender for this offense, according to the ATF.

PHOTO: A mug shot of suspect Robert Findlay Smith, 70.
A mug shot of suspect Robert Findlay Smith, 70.
Jefferson County Jail

Following its investigation into Smith's business, ATF issued him a warning letter in February 2018, which is the "least severe action the ATF can take against a licensee with compliance issues," according to a joint report by The Trace and USA TODAY.

Smith, 70, is facing capital murder charges after allegedly walking into a potluck dinner on June 16 at Saint Stephen's Episcopal Church in Vestavia Hills, killing three parishioners: an 84-year-old man who died at the scene, a 75-year-old woman and an 84-year-old woman who later died at a hospital.

A church member reportedly restrained Smith at the scene until authorities arrived. He’s being held at the Jefferson County Jail on no bond.

According to reports, 25 people were in the church at the time of the shooting.

Ann Carpenter, the reverend's wife, said Smith attended service almost every Sunday but described him as a loner to ABC News, saying he "sat in the back" and "didn't have much interaction with anybody." Right before the shooting, he reportedly drinking liquor alone.

"My wife says he looked like he didn't take very good care of himself," the founder of the church, Rev. Douglas Carpenter, told ABC News. "And he had a hard time communicating with people."

ATF documents showed that Smith bought guns for local dealers, fixed and then sold the weapons at "gun shows, auctions or through the website Gun Broker."

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