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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Alabama pastor and mayor dies by suicide after site publishes photos of him cross-dressing

SMITHS STATION, ALABAMA - MARCH 05: Mayor F.L. Bubba Copeland visits an area that was damaged by a tornado March 5, 2019 in Smiths Station, Alabama. Numerous tornadoes were reported in Eastern Alabama and Western Georgia on March 3 killing at least 23 people. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)  (Alex Wong)
By Muri Assuncao New York Daily News

F.L. Bubba Copeland, an Alabama mayor and Baptist pastor, died by suicide on Friday, just days after a conservative news site published a story about the pastor’s “secret life” and shared photos of Copeland wearing women’s clothes.

The mayor, who served as the pastor at the First Baptist Church of Phenix City, addressed the issue on Wednesday, telling church members the photographs were a private matter, adding the incident would not change “my devotion to my family, to serving my city, serving my church.”

“Yes, I have taken pictures with my wife in the privacy of our home in an attempt of humor because I know I’m not a handsome man nor a beautiful woman, either,” Copeland told the congregation. “I apologize for any embarrassment caused by my private, personal life.”

On Friday afternoon, authorities in Lee County were asked to perform a welfare check on the mayor, local television station WTVM reported.

Copeland was found in Beulah, an unincorporated community in the northeast corner of Lee County, authorities said.

Deputies began slowly pursuing Copeland, who at one point, pulled over, exited the vehicle and produced a handgun, which he used to take his own life.

Early on Saturday, the church posted a message on Facebook thanking people for their “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 message read. “We greatly appreciate your messages, comments, and encouragement. Please continue to pray for us as we move forward in sharing God’s love to all people”