Smiths Station Mayor F.L. Bubba Copeland was discovered deceased on a Lee County road, as confirmed by Sheriff Jay Jones to WRBL on Friday evening. The tragic incident has been ruled as a case of suicide, stated Sheriff Jones.
The late Mayor Copeland had recently been embroiled in a controversy concerning his personal life. Beyond his role as mayor and proprietor of a small grocery store in the Alabama backwaters, Copeland was also the pastor of First Baptist Church in Phenix City.
According to a report by the Alabama nonprofit online news site 1819, Mayor Copeland was involved in posting explicit content, graphic memes, and revealing images of himself dressed in women’s clothing on the internet. The news site presented screenshots from Copeland’s now-deleted Instagram and Reddit accounts, where he portrayed himself as a transgender woman under the alias “Brittini Blaire Summerlin.” Additionally, reports indicated that Copeland linked to transgender fiction and erotica that he had authored.
The controversy surrounding Mayor Copeland drew commentary from some of his associates, including former Phenix City School Superintendent Dr. Larry DiChiara. Dr. DiChiara granted WRBL permission to share his Facebook post, expressing his feelings about the situation.
In his post, Dr. DiChiara expressed profound anger and heartbreak, describing the public ridicule and condemnation that Copeland had faced over the past few days. He mentioned that this relentless scrutiny ultimately led to the mayor taking his own life. Dr. DiChiara disclosed that he had reached out to Copeland and offered support and encouragement upon learning about the ordeal. Copeland had acknowledged that he had been grappling with difficult days. Dr. DiChiara questioned the individuals who had found amusement in publicly ridiculing Copeland and inquired what crime he had committed. He concluded by asking for blessings for Mayor F.L. Bubba Copeland’s soul and forgiveness for those who took pleasure in his suffering, asserting that they should feel shame.
Sheriff Jones disclosed that both the Lee County Sheriff’s Office and the Lee County District Attorney’s Office were actively investigating the circumstances surrounding Copeland’s death. The incident began with a welfare check request for Copeland, as Lee County deputies encountered him driving his truck on a county road near his grocery store, but not at the store itself. The deputies initiated a routine stop, after which Copeland exited his vehicle and took his own life.
Sheriff Jones emphasized that the sole purpose of the stop was to conduct a welfare check. There were no outstanding warrants or any other legal grounds to halt the vehicle.