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Pastor, churchgoers saved lives in Alabama church shooting, witnesses say

James Junior Minter

Selma Police Department via WAKA-TV

EAST SELMA, Ala. - The pastor and members of the congregation that wrestled a gun away from a man who police say opened fired in an Alabama church are being praised as heroes.

James Junior Minter, 26, is being held without bond in the shooting of his girlfriend, his infant son and the church pastor, Earl Carswell, who tried to intervene Sunday morning, according to police Lt. Curtis Muhannad in the city Selma.

Minter was arrested shortly after he opened fire during a church service at Oasis Tabernacle Church in East Selma, Alabama.

"A whole lot more people could have been shot," District Attorney Michael Jackson said, "They all played a heroic role."

Witnesses told police Minter sat in the front row in the church between his girlfriend and the baby, and then pulled out a handgun and started shooting, according to a statement released by the Selma Police Department. The girlfriend, 24, fell to the ground, and Minter fired at her, striking her in the jaw and shoulder. The baby, a 1-month-old boy, was shot in the hand.

Carswell, 61, then grabbed Minter and was shot in the leg. Members of the congregation helped subdue Minter and managed to wrest away his gun, according to police.

The victims are in stable condition.

Minter was able to flee the scene, but was captured by police officers less than a mile from the crime scene, reports CBS affiliate WAKA-TV in Montgomery. His vehicle was left at the scene and the gun was recovered at the church.

Police said Minter was likely upset over a recent breakup and visitation issues with his son.

Minter was being held at the Dallas County jail. The Selma Police Department said Minter has been charged with three counts of attempted murder and may face other charges.