Smiths Station, Alabama Mayor F.L. “Bubba” Copeland died by suicide on Friday after a conservative blog, 1819 News, published photos of him wearing women’s clothing as a “hobby.” In alternate social media accounts, Copeland used the name Brittini Blaire Summerlin and referred to himself as a “Transitioning Transgender Curvy Girl.” In doing so, he used both Reddit and a private Instagram page.
Police performed a welfare check on Copeland, Friday, during which the Mayor, who also serves as a pastor at First Baptist Church, stepped out of his car and shot himself. The church addressed his death in a statement on Saturday. “Thank you all for your prayers and expressions of sympathy and support. First and foremost, we ask that you keep Pastor Bubba Copeland’s family in your prayers today, and in the days ahead,” the statement reads. “We greatly appreciate your messages, comments, and encouragement. Please continue to pray for us as we move forward in sharing God’s love too all people.”
Bubba Copeland Meets With Donald Trump
Copeland addressed the scandal during a sermon earlier in the week. He labeled the story an “internet attack” and explained he had taken pictures with his wife “in the privacy of our home,” and he apologized for “any embarrassment” he caused by his “private and personal life.” In a statement provided to 1819 News in response to the website’s story. Copeland said: “What I do in private life has nothing to do with what I do in my holy life. Does this have any effect on me being mayor, that I sometimes put on a dress or sometimes put on makeup? Does that have anything to do whatsoever with me being mayor or being a pastor?”
The 1819 News post was published by Craig Monger, who defended his reporting in response to initial backlash on Twitter. “‘Digging up someone’s personal life’ is reporting on what someone posts publicly on social media? Interesting take. The Alabama Baptist reported on the church’s live stream. I actually spoke to the mayor,” he wrote in response to a critic. He has not posted since Copeland’s suicide.