An Alabama mayor died apparently by suicide just days after a conservative news site published pictures of him allegedly wearing women’s clothes and makeup, officials said Sunday.
Smiths Station Mayor F.L. “Bubba” Copeland, who was also a pastor at First Baptist Church of Phenix City, fatally shot himself and was pronounced dead at 5:01 p.m. CT Friday, Lee County Coroner Daniel Sexton said.
An autopsy was scheduled for Monday.
“Thank you all for your prayers and expressions of sympathy and support,” First Baptist Church said in a statement Saturday. “First and foremost, we ask that you keep Pastor Bubba Copeland’s family in your prayers today, and in the days ahead.”
Copeland died two days after the 1819 News published a story with photos of the mayor donning women’s clothes and makeup.
“It is sad and disgusting how he was treated by” 1819 News, former U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, D-Ala., said in a statement Saturday. “We live in a mean, bitter world where the self righteous tend to throw the largest stones.”
Copeland was best known for leading his town through a tornado that killed 23 people in eastern Alabama in 2019.
“I am so saddened at the death of my friend Mayor Bubba Copeland,” Jones said. “He was a good man and a great mayor who led the small town of Smith Station through the tough times of a devastating tornado a few years ago.”
Then-President Donald Trump visited damaged communities, and Jones said Copeland played a vital role in communicating the region’s needs to the White House.
“I toured the destruction with him, helped him navigate the FEMA recovery efforts and made sure that he was able to plead his case directly to President Trump,” Jones said.