Defense attorney Henry Lagman said the Rev. Terry Greer, 53, had a string of health and other problems.
Authorities said Greer shot his wife, Lisa Greer, and wounded their 18-year-old daughter, Suzanna, who got the weapon away from him and ran to a neighbor’s home for help. Greer stabbed himself repeatedly before police arrived, but authorities rushed him to a hospital where he remains.
“It was a perfect storm of personal and professional problems,” Lagman said in an interview.
Greer, suspended from his ministerial duties since the shooting, was on medical leave as senior pastor at Gardendale-Mt. Vernon United Methodist Church before the killing, police and church officials have said. The church is one of the larger United Methodist congregations in north Alabama.
Doctors discovered heart problems after Greer wrecked his vehicle in October, and he suffered a closed head wound and other injuries in a fall off his deck within days of the accident.
“He’s in a very dark place. I think the real question is going to be how he got there,” Lagman said.
Lagman said medications linked to Greer’s health problems could be a factor in the shootings.
Greer was placed on a ventilator after developing pneumonia while being treated for multiple self-inflicted stab wounds, said Gardendale Police Chief Mike Walker.
A judge approved a request to hold him without bond, Walker said, and the pastor will be taken straight to jail after his release from the hospital.
For now, police are guarding Greer at the hospital around the clock, Walker said.
“We don’t have a choice,” Walker said. “He’s conscious. He could try to rip out everything and try to walk away.”
Lagman, who said he has known the Greer family since before Suzanna was born, said the pastor was a loving husband and father before his “stair-step decline” into instability. He recalled attending a birthday party for Suzanna years ago where Greer dressed up as a purple dinosaur.
“I’ve seen this man in a Barney costume at a birthday party. Anyone who humbles himself by doing that loves his family,” Lagman said.