Gunman Opens Fire in Nashville Church 09/24 18:57
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- A masked gunman invaded a Nashville church Sunday
and opened fire, walking silently down the aisle as he shot unsuspecting
congregants. At least one person was killed and seven others wounded,
An usher confronted the shooter, who apparently shot himself in the struggle
before he was arrested, police said.
No motive was immediately determined. Church members told investigators that
the suspect had attended services a year or two ago, said Don Aaron, a
spokesman for the Metro Nashville Police Department. Nashville police did not
immediately comment on several bizarre posts on the suspect's Facebook page in
the hours before the shooting.
The gunman pulled into the parking lot at the Burnette Chapel Church of
Christ as services were ending. He fatally shot a woman who was walking to her
vehicle, then entered the rear of the church with two pistols and kept firing,
hitting six people, Aaron said.
Authorities identified the attacker as Emanuel Kidega Samson, 25, of
Murfreesboro, who came to the United States from Sudan in 1996 and was a legal
It was unclear whether the self-inflicted wound to the chest was
intentional, Aaron said.
The gunman was discharged hours later from Vanderbilt University Hospital
but remained in police custody. Warrants charging him with murder and attempted
murder were pending, Aaron said.
Witness Minerva Rosa said the usher was "a hero."
"He's amazing," said Rosa, a member of the church for eight years. "Without
him, I think it could be worse."
The suspect said nothing as he fired. While the gunman made his way down the
aisle, Rosa said, the pastor started shouting, "'Run! Run! Gunshots!'"
Aaron called the usher, 22-year-old Robert Engle, "an extraordinarily brave
The woman who was killed in the parking lot was identified as Melanie Smith,
39, of Smyrna, Tennessee.
The gunman and six others were treated for gunshot wounds at nearby
hospitals, along with Engle, who was pistol-whipped, Aaron said.
Among the wounded was Joey Spann, who is the church's pastor and is a Bible
study teacher at Nashville Christian School.
After the attack, the nearby New Beautiful Gate Church opened its doors to
Burnette Chapel churchgoers as they reunited with loved ones. New Beautiful
Gate Pastor Michael Mosby said he is neighbors with Spann.
"As a pastor myself, you come with the expectation of sitting down and
having a service and not thinking about what can happen around you," Mosby
said. "You never know who is going to come to the door or what reasons they
would come to the door, come to your church and do something like that. We're
always on guard. We just thank God many more weren't hurt."
Forty-two people were at the church at the time of the shooting, and all
victims were adults, Aaron said.
The small brick church describes itself on its website as a "friendly,
Bible-based group of folks who love the Lord and are interested in spreading
his word to those who are lost."
Photos on the church's Facebook page show a diverse congregation with people
of various ages and ethnicities.
On Samson's Facebook page, a post in the hours before the shooting read,
"Everything you've ever doubted or made to be believe as false, is real. & vice
Another post read, "Become the creator instead of what's created . Whatever
you say, goes."
And a third post read, "You are more than what they told us."
Samson also posted several shirtless photos of himself flexing his muscles.
In some he wears a tank top that reads "Beast Mode."
Nashville Mayor Megan Barry said in a statement that the shooting was "a
terrible tragedy for our city." She said her administration "will continue to
work with community members to stop crime before it starts, encourage peaceful
conflict resolution and promote non-violence."