Suspect Charged With Murder in Mass Shooting at Tennessee Church

Emanuel Kidega Samson. Metro Nashville Police Department

(NBC News)- A Tennessee man was held without bond Sunday night on a first-degree murder charge after he allegedly opened fire while wearing a mask at a church outside Nashville, killing one person and injuring six others, authorities said.

Emanuel Kidega Samson, 25, identified as the suspect by police, told authorities he arrived at the church armed with a handgun just before 11 a.m. and “fired upon the church building,” according to a State of Tennessee affidavit.

Officials said in a statement that more charges were expected.

Police found four guns believed to be Samson’s, the statement said — a rifle and a pistol in the suspect’s SUV, along with two other pistols — in Burnette Chapel Church of Christ in Antioch, where Melanie Smith, 39, was killed as she walked to her car.

Nashville police spokesman Don Aaron said that after fatally shooting Smith, the gunman entered the main sanctuary door, at the rear of the church, and “began indiscriminately shooting.”

A church usher, Caleb Engle, 22, confronted the gunman and was “pistol whipped,” Aaron said.

“There was a significant struggle between the two,” he said, adding: “During the struggle, the gunman shot himself, probably not intentionally, in the left pectoral muscle.”

Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson said of Engle on Sunday afternoon: “He’s the hero — he’s the person who stopped this madness.”

Engle, a licensed gun owner, went to his vehicle, retrieved his firearm, returned to the church and “made sure that the gunman didn’t make any more movements until the police department arrived,” Anderson said.

The church’s minister, Joey Spann, and his wife, Peggy, were among the injured, Nashville Christian School said in a post on Facebook.  Other wounded attendees included William Jenkins, 83; Marlene Jenkins, 84; Linda Bush 68; and Katherine Dickerson, 64.

Five shooting victims and the gunman were treated at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said John Howser, chief of the medical center’s communications office.

By Monday morning, one patient was in critical but stable condition, according to the medical center. The four remaining patients were all listed in stable condition.

“This is a terrible tragedy for our city,” Mayor Megan Barry said in a statement. “My heart aches for the family and friends of the deceased as well as for the wounded victims and their loved ones.”

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