The mayor of Smiths Station, Alabama, F.L. “Bubba” Copeland, took his own life on Friday, just 48 hours after a conservative news outlet, 1819 News, published stories accusing him of using an online alter ego to post photos of himself in women’s clothing and images of community members on an adult website. The publication claimed that these revelations were part of a larger attempt to have a Utah judge drop a state criminal case against him.
In one email cited in the story, Copeland allegedly threatened a rabbi, saying, “If you do not use your influence to right this wrong, I will execute you and every other Jew I can find at midnight of your Sabbath.”
This tragedy occurred amid a backdrop of rising tensions and antisemitism fueled by the conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.
Close friends of Copeland noted that the public revelations had severely affected him, leading to concern for his well-being. Authorities were alerted, and a welfare check was conducted on Friday, which ultimately ended in tragedy.
During a brief encounter with law enforcement, Copeland took his own life. The sheriff’s office had not anticipated this outcome, and they had initiated contact with him in an attempt to assess the situation.
The circumstances surrounding the mayor’s passing have left the community in shock and mourning. Copeland leaves behind a grieving family, including his wife, two daughters, and a teenage son who is struggling to come to terms with the loss.
In his final sermon at the First Baptist Church of Phenix City, Copeland addressed the initial article, expressing regret for any embarrassment caused by his private and personal life. He maintained that the publication did not reflect his true character and affirmed his unwavering commitment to his family, city, and church.
Residents of Smiths Station, including those unwittingly drawn into the disturbing online activities, are grappling with confusion and distress, as they attempt to comprehend their connection to this tragic turn of events. The small town is in upheaval as its community tries to come to terms with the loss of their mayor and the revelations that preceded his death.
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If you or someone you know is in crisis, call or text 988 to reach the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline or chat live at 988lifeline.org. Additional support can be found at SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources.