A 25-year-old man has been identified as the shooter who opened fire Sunday morning inside a church in Tennessee, killing a woman and wounding six others before accidentally shooting himself when he was confronted by an usher, police say.
The suspect, Emanuel Kidega Samson, is under police guard at Vanderbilt University Medical Center with non-life-threatening injuries, the Nashville Metro Police Department said. He is a former member of the church, police said.
The woman killed in the shooting has been identified by her family as Melanie Crow Crow, 39, of Smyrna.
Officers were called to the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ in Antioch about 11:15 a.m. for a report of an active shooter, police said. They found the suspect being held at gunpoint by the usher and several victims in need of medical attention, along with a woman who had suffered a fatal gunshot wound in the church’s parking lot.
The two critical patients suffered gunshot wounds to (their) chest and torso. The four other patients suffered gunshot wounds to their extremities, seventh shooting victim was hospitalized at another medical center and his or her condition is not known. And the usher, who was pistol whipped after confronting the shooter, was also hospitalized with a head injury that is not life-threatening, according to police.
A motive for the shooting has not been released. Samson will be taken into police custody and charged with murder and multiple counts of attempted murder after he leaves the hospital, according to police.
The surviving victims include Minister Joey Spann, who is in critical condition, and his wife, Peggy Spann, 65, who is in stable condition. The other victims are all in stable condition: Linda Bush, 68; William Jenkins, 83; Marlene Jenkins, 84; Katherine Dickerson, 64; and Robert Engle, 22, the usher who stopped the gunman, police said.
Police Say the Ski Mask-Clad Gunman Was Stopped by a ‘Brave’ Usher
Police said at a briefing that the shooting happened as church was being let out. The gunman, identified as Emanuel Samson, was wearing a “neoprene ski type mask,” and armed with two guns, police spokesman Don Aaron told reporters. Aaron said rumors the gunman was wearing a clown mask do not appear to be true, the mask was “more like what you would see on a skier.”
A 911 caller told police that the shooter was wearing a “clown mask,” according to dispatch audio recorded from a police scanner. You can listen to that audio, below. It has been edited by to remove dead air:
The caller told dispatchers there were multiple victims and a “suspect wearing a clown mask.” A witness also told a local news station that the gunman was wearing a mask.
Police said the shooting happened about 11:15 a.m. local time. The church is located at 3890 Pin Hook Road in Antioch.
“One woman who was walking to her vehicle was immediately fatally wounded by the gunman, who we believe then entered the rear of the church, other persons were still inside the rear of the building, the gunman opened fire on them, multiple rounds were fired inside the church, police said at a press conference.
Aaron said the shooter was firing “indiscriminately” inside the church.
The Burnette Chapel Church of Christ holds a Sunday service at 10 a.m. each week, according to The Tennessean.
Police said they believe there were about 50 people inside the building when the shooting occurred. All of the victims were adults, and police said they believe children were not in the area of the building where the shooting occurred.
According to police, the gunman shot himself after he was confronted by a church member, 22-year-old Robert Engle, who went to his car and retrieved a gun. Engle has a permit to carry the handgun, authorities said.
“The gunman was wounded by a self-inflicted shot,” a police spokesman said. “He too has been taken to the hospital. One of the church members, upon seeing the gunman doing this action inside the church, ran up and confronted him. He was pistol-whipped by the gunman,” Aaron told reporters.
Police said the gunman then accidentally shot himself in the leg. The member of the church who confronted him was an usher, according to police. He has a permit to legally carry a handgun, and ran to his car to retrieve his gun after being struck by the shooter. He then went back into the church and held the shooter at gunpoint, police said. Aaron called him an “exceptionally brave individual.” He was bleeding from the head, but was able to talk to police and walk into an ambulance on his own.
Police said the suspect is under guard at Vanderbilt Medical Center and his injuries are not expected to be life-threatening.
Samson arrived at the scene in a blue SUV that was found in the church’s parking lot, police said. He was wearing a “neoprene” mask over half his face, police said. It was checked by a police “hazardous devices” unit, but there were no explosives found.
Samson is not an undocumented or illegal alien – but according to authorities, Emanuel relocated to the U.S. during the 1990s. Samson began shooting at approximately 11 a.m., but prior to the tragic shooting, Emanuel updated his Facebook page with posts like the following.
“Become the creator instead of what’s created. Whatever you say, goes. You are more than what they told us.”
And, a little over an hour before his rampage, he made this cryptic post. Paroxysm is defined as “a sudden attack or violent expression of a particular emotion or activity”.
While Facebook friends of Samson commented on other photos posted to his page with comments like “Dang bruh, who you about to go kill?”
Additionally, Samson posted support for the Black Power movement with this fist featuring a Kemet, which represents Kemetic Orthodoxy, the modern equivalent of Ancient Egyptian religion, Kemet. This compound symbol is often used to represent the idea that ancient practitioners of Kemet referred to themselves as “Black Power”, which is based on a translation that is taken out of context.
The Memphis FBI Field Office’s Nashville Resident Agency, the Civil Rights Division, and the US Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Tennessee have opened a civil rights investigation into the shooting at the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ in Antioch, Tennessee.
On its website, the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ says in its welcome message, “If you are looking for a church home, you will find us to be a friendly, Bible based group of folks who love the Lord and are interested in spreading His Word to those who are lost.”
The church’s statement continues, “Burnette Chapel has been serving the Antioch, LaVergne and Nashville TN areas for quite some time. No matter where you live, if you want to attend a Church where people remember who you are, please join us!”
The message also adds, in parentheses, “and yeah you can wear blue jeans :).”