Local woman calls for justice after son was shot at while playing basketball inside church gymnasium

Local woman calls for justice after son was shot at while playing basketball inside church gymnasium
Published: Dec. 4, 2021 at 10:15 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office is still searching for the man they say shot at multiple teenagers inside a Jefferson County church on Friday.

Stacy Upton says her teenage son, 15-year-old Garrett Upton, was at the church Friday night playing basketball, when two strangers came in and started shooting.

“For the last two months, they have been going every Friday night and playing,” Upton said. “Never had a problem. The church opens their doors and welcomes them.”

The weekly basketball game is apart of the church’s outreach. Teenage church members will share their message with other teens before a friendly game of basketball. Church leaders said it is normal for non-members to come and participate and that majority of the participants are ages 18 and up.

Upton said her son told her it was a normal night where they prayed and played, until the shots were fired.

“Two guys came in and played a game with them,” Upton said. “One went to the bathroom and that’s I guess when he got the gun out of his bag and then came back and started shooting.”

Upton said her son and his two friends had never seen the shooter before. Garrett said they don’t know why the male shooter pulled the trigger. Police said they believe he was unprovoked. Upton said her son was able to run out of the gym and across the street to safety. Other participants followed and she said some hid in the bushes outside.

Upton quickly learned of the shooting from another parent.

“I didn’t know if they were okay,” she said. “I could not get my son on the phone. That drive that is not even five minutes down the road, felt like an eternity.”

Police say the shooter ran from the church and Upton said her son called 911 before she got to the church. She said Garrett’s school basketball uniform was used to help save the victim.

“They had to use his pants for a tourniquet to stop the bleeding,” Upton said. “But, my son would not have had it any other way.”

Officials with the church said 18-year-old Michael Fauber was shot multiple times. He was visiting as a missionary. He was transported to UAB hospital in serious condition. Church officials said he is now in stable condition.

“I am hopeful that he recovers,” Church Representative Barry Sadler said. “We ask for prayers from the community for this young man and his family. Our churches should be sanctuaries of faith, peace, love, so it is concerning that this happened.”

The church is offering counseling to all the teenagers that were in the gym and are working with police to find the suspect.

“We are trying to provide counseling for them and making sure that they are okay,” Sadler said. “We welcome visitors, so it is concerning that this has happened. But, we want to continue to be open to the community and invite people to come and worship with us.”

Upton is thankful her son is safe, but said gun violence has to stop. She said she hopes police are able to arrest the suspect and bring all involved some justice.

She said her sons and his friends are doing okay, but they will need time to recover.

“They don’t understand why someone would come befriend them and then start shooting,” Upton said. “I don’t understand how people can just go into a church and have no regard for life.”

No arrests have been made in this case.

The Jefferson County Sheriff’s department said the suspect is a black man with a light complexion. They believe he is about 6 feet 7 inches tall and very skinny. They also believe he is in his mid 20′s.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Sheriff’s Office at 205-325-1450 or Crime Stoppers at 205-254-7777.

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