Police Identify Gunman, Victims In Deadly Nashville Church Shooting | Nashville Public Radio

Police Identify Gunman, Victims In Deadly Nashville Church Shooting

Updated at 4:45 p.m.

One person was killed and seven were injured when a gunman opened fire at Burnette Chapel Church of Christ in Antioch, according to the Nashville Police Department. The shooter, identified by police as 25-year-old Emanuel Kidego Samson, was also wounded.

Nashville police believe Samson attended the church in recent years, although he was not recognized during the attack because he was wearing a mask. Federal authorities are looking into the possibility of opening a civil rights case.

Police spokesman Don Aaron told reporters that officers responded to the call at 11:15 a.m., as church services were ending. More than 40 people were inside, Aaron said. 

Samson shot and killed 39-year-old Melanie Smith in the parking lot first, police say. Then he came in through the back doors of the sanctuary and began attacking people inside. Samson was carrying two guns, according to police.

He was confronted by an usher, Robert Engle, who tackled Samson as he was trying to advance. Police say Samson "pistol-whipped" Engle and ended up getting shot with his own during the struggle. Police believe, but can not yet confirm, that Samson shot himself. 

"Whether he shot himself on purpose, whether it was something in the struggle, we don't know," said police chief Steve Anderson.

After Samson was tackled, Engle went to his car to obtain his own gun, for which he had a handgun carry permit, police say.

Anderson called Engle a hero. "He's the person who stopped this madness. We're very, very grateful to him."

Burnette Chapel's minister, Joey Spann, was injured in the shooting and is in critical stable condition. His wife, Peggy, was also among the wounded.

Samson's motive has not yet been determined. He is now in police custody and will be charged with murder and multiple counts of attempted murder.

Police believe that Samson is a legal U.S. resident who moved from Sudan in 1996. His Tennessee driver license identified him as a resident of Murfreesboro, but "that was a bad address," Aaron said.

Law enforcement has blocked off the site during the investigation. Aaron said the ATF and FBI are on the scene as well.

Joe Love lives across the street from the church and says two members ran to his door immediately after the shooting. They called 911 and went back over to the scene, where he said members were still panicked and the injured were laid out on the floor.

Steven Whidby, another neighbor, said Burnette Chapel used to be a country church with a largely white membership but has recently become more diverse, just like the surrounding neighborhoods in Antioch.

"Literally, it is a community church. They do everything. You could not ask for a better church," Whidby said. "It's just sad."

This is a developing story. We will update as we confirm more details.