NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A masked gunman entered a church in Tennessee on Sunday and opened fire, killing at least one person and injuring seven others before apparently shooting himself, an official said.
Don Aaron, spokesman for the Metro Nashville Police Department, said the gunman arrived at the parking lot as services were ending at the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ in the neighborhood of Antioch. The suspect fatally shot a woman who was walking to her vehicle, then entered the rear of the church, and six people were shot. Aaron says a churchgoer who confronted the gunman was pistol-whipped by the suspect, who then shot himself.
Aaron identified the suspect as 25-year-old Emanuel Kidega Samson of Murfreesboro.
Aaron says Samson has been discharged from Vanderbilt University Hospital and charging warrants are being obtained.
The gunman and five others were treated for gunshot wounds at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Aaron said. One gunshot victim and the man who was pistol-whipped were taken to Skyline Medical Center for treatment.
Aaron said the condition of the suspect, in his 20s and from Rutherford County, wasn’t believed to be life-threatening. He was under police guard. His name was not immediately released.
Aaron said he was “not aware” of any relationship between the alleged gunman and any of the worshippers inside the church. Congregants who witnessed the shootings were being interviewed by investigators.
The small, yellow brick church describes itself on its website as a “friendly, Bible based group of folks who love the Lord and are interested in spreading His Word to those who are lost.”
Photos on the church’s Facebook page show a diverse congregation with people of various ages and ethnicities.
A witness to a shooting is calling an usher who confronted a gunman “a hero.”
Minerva Rosa has been a member at the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ for eight years. She was inside when a suspect opened fired Sunday.
Rosa says the suspect said nothing as he shot churchgoers. As the gunman made his way down the aisle, Rosa says the pastor started shouting, “`Run! Run! Gunshots!”
Police say the usher was pistol whipped as he confronted the suspect, who then apparently shot himself during the struggle. Aaron says the usher then went to his own car to retrieve his gun, returned and stood over the suspect until police arrived.
Rosa says without the usher, the situation “could be worse.”
Aaron didn’t immediately identify the usher but calls him “an extraordinarily brave individual.”
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