A man in a mask opened fire at a church in Antioch, Tennessee on Sunday morning, injuring seven people and killing a woman who was walking to her car. Police say the gunman, whom they suspect is 25-year-old Emanuel Kidega Samson, entered Burnette Chapel Church of Christ and “began indiscriminately shooting” people inside the main sanctuary. Luckily, a brave church usher stopped the gunman in his tracks.
When 22-year-old Caleb Engle first confronted the gunman, the shooter pistol-whipped him, authorities say. During this initial struggle, the suspect shot himself in the chest, giving Engle — a licensed gun owner — time to get his gun from his car. Police say Engle used his gun to make sure the suspect didn’t try to make a move before help arrived.
“He’s the hero,” said Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson, according to NBC News. “He’s the person who stopped this madness.”
Engle says police are the ones who deserve the credit for saving the day.
“The real heroes are the police, first responders and medical staff and doctors who have helped me and everyone affected,” Engle said.
Samson, who is believed to have come to the United States from Sudan in 1996, has been arrested and charged with first-degree murder. He is being held without bond and police say he will be charged with additional crimes. Churchgoers said Samson used to attend Burnette Chapel Church of Christ more than a year ago, but officials are still piecing together what motivated the suspect to carry out this deadly rampage.
The woman who was killed has been identified as 39-year-old Melanie Smith. Six others were hospitalized, including the church’s minister, and are being treated for gunshot wounds. Two of the victims are said to be in critical condition. Officials say all victims except for one are elderly.