GARDENDALE — Former Decatur pastor Terry Greer intended to kill his wife and daughter and himself Thursday afternoon in the family’s Gardendale home, police said Friday.
Greer’s wife, Lisa Greer, 52, died about 1 a.m. Friday from a gunshot wound inflicted by Terry, Gardendale police said.
After being shot by her father, Suzanna Greer, 18, wrestled the pistol from him and ran to a neighbor’s house, and the neighbor called 911, Gardendale Police Chief Mike Walker said.
Meanwhile, Terry Greer went into a bathroom with a kitchen knife and stabbed himself in the chest and neck, according to Walker. Officers found him on the bathroom floor.
Suzanna Greer remained in stable condition at University of Alabama-Birmingham Hospital on Friday evening. Walker said Suzanna has been very helpful during the investigation.
“Our hope is that the church and community will support Ms. Greer (Suzanna) during the aftermath of this tragic incident and beyond,” Walker said.
The condition of Terry Greer, 54, was upgraded from critical to stable Friday. He has been charged with murder and attempted murder and remains under police guard at the hospital.
Walker said Greer will be transferred to the Jefferson County Jail when it is “practical.” He will be booked into jail in lieu of $135,000 bail.
Greer had been pastor of First United Methodist Church in Decatur for eight years before taking over at Gardendale-Mount Vernon United Methodist in June. He traded pulpits with Pastor Rudy Guess, who had been pastor of Mount Vernon. Guess and others who know the Greers gathered for prayer at First United Methodist on Friday afternoon.
Former Gardendale Mayor Kenny Clemons, who attends Mount Vernon, said Greer had a car wreck in October as a result of heart complications while he was driving. A month later, he was injured when he fell from the deck on the back of his home. Clemons said Greer had not been involved in the church in “three or four months.”
The family resided in a parsonage owned by Mount Vernon on Country Meadow Drive in north Gardendale, about 10 miles north of Birmingham. Neighbors said they knew little about the Greers.
“People just aren’t neighbors like we used to be,” neighbor Doris Moody said. “But it’s a quiet neighborhood. There’s never been dissension.”
Decatur and Gardendale police said they have no record of any incidents involving the Greers before Thursday.
Suzanna Greer’s Chevrolet Equinox, with a “Support the Arts” Alabama license plate, was parked in the driveway Friday. It has window stickers that say “South Alabama Jaguars” and “I brake for Anime!” She is a 2012 graduate of Decatur High School and attends the University of South Alabama.
Lisa Greer was formerly a first-grade teacher at Chestnut Grove Elementary, Decatur City Schools Superintendent Ed Nichols said.
“This is just a tragic thing,” Nichols said. “She was a fine person. Sweet. A good teacher. You couldn’t ask for a finer person.”
Nichols said she did some contract work at a couple of schools for the district after she retired.
Terry Greer was very active in the Decatur community, particularly in the civic organization Rotary Club of Decatur. Terry married Lisa in 1985, according to Lisa’s Facebook page.
“Terry worshipped his wife and daughter,” said Nichols, a past Decatur Rotary president. “And his daughter, she’s just a sweet girl. Just a sweet family.”
Parishioners at Mount Vernon were somber Friday as they entered the church sanctuary for prayers. Counselors and church staff prayed with them, many answering questions of uncertainty with affirmations of faith.
United Methodist Church Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett will preach the Sunday sermon at Mount Vernon, which has an average Sunday attendance of 670. Wallace-Padgett leads North Alabama Conference of the United Methodist Church.
Danette Clifton, director of communication for the North Alabama Conference, said Mount Vernon likely will have counseling sessions, but she didn’t have a schedule.
“We’re in this for the long haul,” she said.