On September 24, just as morning church services were letting out at the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ in Antioch, Tennessee, a masked gunman opened fire on the church. Identified as 25-year-old Emanuel Kidega Samson, an immigrant from Sudan, the gunman shot and killed one woman as she walked to her car.
Then, Samson entered the church, walked down the aisle and shot unsuspecting churchgoers. Aside from the woman that was killed in the parking lot, seven more people were injured, including the pastor.
There would have been many more casualties if it were not for the brave actions of the church’s 22-year-old usher, Robert Engle who stopped the gunman from killing more people. Engle scuffled with the Samson. During the fight, Samson accidentally shot himself. Engle, who holds a permit to carry a firearm legally, ran to his car, grabbed his own gun and kept Samson at bay until police arrived on the scene.
The minister of the church, who was shot along with his wife and six other members of his congregation, says that he believes that the gunman was “going to kill everybody.” In recalling the horrific rampage, Joey Spann of the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ told Christian News.net that he did not think that he was going to survive the shooting.
Spann believed that the shooter was going to kill everybody in the church. The shooter was reloading when Engle attacked him, preventing him from continuing the rampage on the church. The police also seem to think that the gunman would have injured or killed a lot more people before he was stopped. He was certainly armed to do so.
According to police, Samson had brought four guns with him that day. He took a 9mm and a .40 caliber inside the church, and fired 12 rounds from the .40 caliber before stopping to reload at least once. Samson wore a tactical vest and brought three additional magazines of ammunition inside the church. Samson also had a semi-automatic AR-15 rifle and a .22 caliber pistol in his SUV.
Police chief Steve Anderson called Engle a “hero” for stopping the “madness” and preventing Samson from harming additional people. Spann says that he is thankful to be alive. He says that if he had the opportunity to talk to Samson, to try to help him, he would do so.
After the attack, the injured were treated at nearby hospitals. Engle was pistol-whipped by the gunman, but was not injured. The suspect was hospitalized for his injury. He was treated for his gunshot wound and is now being held without bond for felony homicide. Unfortunately, Melanie Crow-Smith, the woman that Samson had shot first, did not survive the attack. Smith was a single mother of two who was family and friends remembered as being very kind and witty.
Samson had apparently attended the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ several years before he went on the shooting rampage. At one point, he aspired to be a preacher, based on his social media posts. Church members were surprised to learn that Samson was responsible for the crime. Some that remembered him from his previous time attending said that he was friendly to everyone, including one of the persons that he shot.
Samson apparently worked as a security guard right before the shooting, and had several encounters with police before the shooting. On June 27th, Samson’s father reported that Samson was suicidal. Apparently, Samson had texted his father saying that he was going to shoot himself. The police found Samson working at a security office. He denied suicidal thoughts and police took no further action. There were also several domestic disturbance incidents between Samson and his girlfriend, according to police.
While police have not released a motive for the attack, the FBI and Department of Justice have opened a federal civil rights investigation into the shooting. However, a note found in Samson’s SUV referenced retaliation for a massacre that took place at a black church several years ago in South Carolina. In that case, white supremacist Dylan Roof killed nine people inside a Charleston church. Roof is now on death row. Police have not said what the note said, but it allegedly talks about Roof. The letter might speak to the shooter’s state of mind at the time of the crime.
~ 1776 Christian