Courtney Lee Knight, an 18-year-old Alabama man, was arrested along with one suspected accomplice in the shooting of a teenage Mormon missionary at a Vestavia Hills church, according to local reports.

Knight and 22-year-old Cornelius Omar-James Knight were charged with attempted murder Tuesday and booked in a Jefferson County jail. It’s not clear if the pair are related. 

Police believe the men are responsible for the Dec. 3 shooting at a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints meeting hall in the Birmingham area which left 18-year-old Elder Michael Fauber, a Mormon missionary and Ohio resident, in serious condition. He is continuing to recover, his family said.

Police: Courtney Lee Knight Shot Up Church

According to police, Fauber was with a group of youths playing basketball at the Mormon meeting hall in Vestavia Hills, Alabama on Dec. 3. Investigators said a man entered the church and played with the group for a short time before opening fire at about 8:30 p.m., apparently unprovoked. 

Elder Michael Fauber was hospitalized with serious injuries. His family told reporters he had been struck twice in the right side of the chest, and another bullet grazed his head. No one else in the building was hurt, church leaders said. 

Investigators said Courtney Lee Knight walked into this Mormon meeting hall on Dec. 3 and opened fire, seriously wounding 18-year-old Elder Michael Fauber. No motive is apparent.
Investigators said Courtney Lee Knight walked into this Mormon meeting hall on Dec. 3 and opened fire, seriously wounding 18-year-old Elder Michael Fauber. No motive is apparent. Photo credit: Google Maps

With no apparent leads or motives, police had only a basic witness description of the shooter to work from — a young black male, about 6-foot-7, mid-20s in age, and skinny. Jefferson County detectives said they worked alongside federal investigators and the Metro Area Crime Center (MACC), an inter-agency intelligence unit, eventually finding evidence that led them to Courtney Knight. 

Our detectives worked tirelessly to develop the information from what initially seemed to be a needle in a haystack,” the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office said in a press release Tuesday. 

“Through collaborative efforts with the US Marshal’s Service, the community and other law enforcement agencies, they were able to solve this unwarranted attack on a blameless person,” the statement read. “Our agency is extremely proud of the efforts by all those involved in helping to bring this case to a close.”

Suspects Could Face Jail Time

Authorities secured arrest warrants for Courtney Lee Knight, 18, and Cornelius Omar-James Knight, 22, and both were in police custody by Tuesday, Jefferson County Jail records show. 

Courtney Knight is being held on $60,000 for one count of attempted murder. Under Alabama law, the charge is a class A felony, which means the 18-year-old could face between 10 and 99 years in prison if convicted. Jail records do not say when he’s due back in court for his arraignment. 

Police believe Cornelius Omar-James Knight, pictured, obstructed their investigation into Courtney Lee Knight
Police believe Cornelius Omar-James Knight, pictured, obstructed their investigation into Courtney Lee Knight, who is accused of shooting Elder Michael Fauber at a church earlier this month. Courtney Knight is not pictured, as Breaking Daily News does not publish mug shots for suspects younger than 21. Photo credit: Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office

Cornelius Knight faces one count of hindering prosecution and obstructing a criminal investigation in the first degree, though police have not detailed the 22-year-old’s alleged involvement in the Dec. 3 shooting. The charge, a class C felony, carries a penalty of one to 10 years in prison, according to one source

He was released on Tuesday afternoon on $15,000 bond, jail records show. 

Investigators still have not revealed a possible motive for the shooting. 

Family: Elder Michael Fauber Recovering

The 18-year-old victim needed three surgeries after he was shot, his family and church leaders have said, but his condition has continued to improve in the weeks since. 

“Elder Fauber’s condition as of Monday afternoon is serious, but stable and improving,” said Sam Prenod, a Mormon church spokesperson, last week. 

Elder Michael Fauber, 18, is expected to recover from his injuries. Police arrested his alleged shooter, Courtney Lee Knight
Elder Michael Fauber, 18, is expected to recover from his injuries. Police believe the Mormon missionary was shot in a church on Dec. 3 by Courtney Lee Knight. Photo credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints

The teenage missionary’s parents David and Rachel Fauber told reporters that their son was in good spirits after one of his surgeries last week. 

“We were just talking about what he had been through and that he wasn’t afraid,” David told The Church News. “He asked me, ‘Am I going to die?’ And I said, ‘I don’t think so. Are you afraid?’ He said, ‘No. I know that if I do, I know where I will go.’ That’s the amazing thing.”

Authorities said Tuesday that Fauber’s prognosis was encouraging, writing: “Thankfully, the victim’s condition is improving and he is expected to recover from his injuries.”