The minister of the Antioch church where a gunman opened fire on Sunday, killing one woman and injuring six other people, says he's doing well but remains at a loss as to why his small congregation came under attack.
Speaking to reporters at Vanderbilt University Medical Center on Tuesday, Joey Spann, who's also a youth basketball coach, says he expects to return to both the sidelines and the pulpit soon. His wife, Peggy, is also recovering at Vanderbilt after being wounded in the attack.
Spann was able to vividly recollect his experience on Sunday at Burnette Chapel Church of Christ. He had delivered the sermon and was greeting churchgoers following the conclusion of services when he saw a masked gunman walking purposefully from the parking lot to the sanctuary.
Spann says he urged members to run and tried to stop the gunman by throwing a container. The shooter, whom police have identified as Emanuel Samson, then opened fire at close range, hitting Spann just above the chest. His wife came to his aid.
"And I said, 'Honey, he's killed me,'" Spann says. "And, I said, 'I'm dying and I'm sorry.'"
Spann also lost a finger in the attack. He credits trained nurses who were at Burnette Chapel that day for saving his life.
Police say Samson had also attended the church in the past, but Spann says he does not recall him. He suggests Samson could have been part of a group of young Sudanese-born men who taught vacation Bible school a few years ago but hadn't attended much since.
Spann says he's puzzled as to why the congregation would be targeted. Police have not yet released a motive but are investigating the shooting as a potential civil rights crime.
Spann describes the church as racially mixed, and says it had good relations with its neighbors.
"There was no enemies, no hostilities held toward anyone. It's just hard to figure out why."
Spann also had warm words for Melanie Crow, the 38-year-old woman killed in the shooting. She had been one of the first to depart church that day, which meant she met the shooter in the parking lot.
Spann describes Crow as "a precious person" whose daughter had just been baptized a few weeks ago.