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Tennessee church shooting suspect identified; 1 killed, 7 wounded

FOX News logo FOX News 9/24/2017 FoxNews.com

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One woman was killed and seven other people were hurt after a shooting suspect, identified as 25-year-old Emanuel Kidega Samson, opened fire at a Tennessee church Sunday, police said.

Samson, identified as African-American, is suspected of opening fire at Burnette Chapel Church of Christ in Antioch, southeast of Nashville, just after 11 a.m. He fired “multiple rounds,” police said in a news conference.

Metropolitan Nashville Police Department tweeted that Samson has been released from the hospital and will be charged with murder, in addition to attempted murder. 

A church usher, identified as Robert Engle, 22, confronted the masked gunman at one point and was pistol-whipped, causing "significant injury around his head," police added. They said Engle went to his own car, grabbed a pistol and headed back into the church.

Law enforcement confirmed Samson, a legal U.S. resident, brought two guns to the church Sunday. They said he immigrated from Sudan in 1996.

It was initially reported that the gunman shot himself, although police said it's unclear whether he shot himself or the gun unintentionally discharged during his scuffle with Engle.

The scene where people were injured when a gunman opened fire at the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ, in Nashville, Tennessee, U.S. September 24, 2017.

The scene where people were injured when a gunman opened fire at the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ, in Nashville, Tennessee, U.S. September 24, 2017.
© REUTERS/Jamie Gilliam
Police said that Burnette Chapel churchgoers recognized Samson as attending their church one to two years ago, but noted he hadn't attended services "in quite a while."

The woman who was shot and killed in the church parking lot, identified as Melanie Smith, 39, was walking to her car when she was hit, police said.

The gunman, with his blue vehicle still running in the parking lot, then entered the back of the church and shot six people – three women and three men – who were rushed to the hospital, police said. 

Police identified those being treated at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and in stable condition as: William Jenkins, 83; Marlene Jenkins, 84; Peggy Span, 65; and Linda Bush, 68. David Span, 60, was also being treated at Vanderbilt, but was listed as in critical but stable condition.

Katherine Dickerson, 64, was in stable condition at Skyline Medical Center. Engle was also being treated at Skyline.

Metropolitan Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson called Engle a "hero" for his actions at the church Sunday.

Several witnesses claimed the shooter was wearing a “clown mask” when he opened fire, but police said what he wore more closely resembled a ski mask. 

The FBI is responding to the incident, but is not leading the investigation at this point. Police said the Justice Department is looking into the shooting and contemplating opening a civil rights case. 

Megan Barry, mayor of Metropolitan Nashville and Davidson County, said in a statement that the shooting "is a terrible tragedy for our city. My heart aches for the family and friends of the deceased as well as for the wounded victims and their loved ones."

The church has a weekly service starting at 10 a.m. Sunday. The surrounding area was closed off as police investigated the situation.

Fox News' Jake Gibson and The Associated Press contributed to this report.


At least six people were injured when shots were fired at a Tennessee Church on Sunday, Nashville police said. © Burnette Chapel Church of Christ At least six people were injured when shots were fired at a Tennessee Church on Sunday, Nashville police said.

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