Sunday morning a gunman opened fire in a Tennessee church.
A shooter reportedly wearing a clown mask opened fire in a Tennessee church on Sunday, leaving one woman dead with at least seven others, including the gunman, wounded. According to authorities, the suspect, 25-year old Emanuel Kidega Samson, entered the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ in Antioch, Tennesse—just outside of Nashville. It was just after 11 a.m that he began shooting, arriving at the church’s parking lot where he shot and killed 39-year old Melanie Smith as she was walking to her car said Don Aaron, spokesman of the Metropolitan Nashville Police.
He then made his way inside he church through a back door and opened fire as the service was ending. He reportedly pistol-whipped an usher, 22-year old Robert Engle, before accidentally shooting himself. Engle then grabbed his own firearm from his car and held the suspect off until authorities arrived on the scene.
All of the victims but the deceased Smith are over the age of 60, and most have been transported to and treated at the Vanderbilt Medical Center. Victims included William Jenkins, 83; Marlene Jenkins, 84; Peggy Span, 65; Linda Bush, 68, and David Span, 60. Katherine Dickerson, 64, and the aforementioned Engle were being treated at the area’s Skyline Medical Center.
Samson was also treated and released into police custody where he is now being charged with murder and attempted murder according to Nashville Police.
Reports also state that the FBI will be initiating a civil rights investigation in association with the shooting at the predominantly white church at the hands of a black assailant. Samson is identified as a Sudanese imigrant who migrated to the States in 1996. Churchgoers say he frequented the church one or two years ago, but hadn’t been an active part of the congregation in recent times.
“This is a terrible tragedy for our city,” wrote Mayor Megan Barry 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. Their lives have been forever changed, as has the life of their faith community at Burnette Chapel Church of Christ. My administration, especially the Metro Nashville Police Department, will continue to work with community members to stop crime before it starts, encourage peaceful conflict resolution, and promote non-violence.” This story is still developing.