One person was killed and eight others wounded on Sunday after a masked man opened fire after a church service in Tennessee, only to be apprehended after he accidentally shot himself when confronted by an armed congregant.
The gunman has been identified as 25-year-old Emanuel Kidega Samson of Rutherford County, who police claim had previously attended the Antioch church, the Tennessean reported. He was taken to the hospital after a standoff with an armed civilian caused Samson to shoot himself.
Samson’s rampage reportedly began in the parking lot of Burnette Chapel Church of Christ, where he donned a neoprene ski mask and fatally shot 39-year-old Melanie Smith of Smyrna. He then left his car running as he entered the church through a rear door and began shooting “indiscriminately,” police said.
At least three men and three women were wounded in the gunfire, with church minister Joey Spann, 60, and his wife, Peggy, 65, included among those who were injured.
As Samson continued to shoot, a courageous usher confronted him but was pistol whipped, police spokesman Don Aaron said. The blow apparently caused the gunman to shoot himself in his chest, incapacitating him until authorities could arrive. Samson was then transported to the Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
There were about 42 people inside the church at the time of the shooting. Spann called for congregants to run as soon as he spotted Samson, witness Minerva Rosa said, but some were shot in the back as they fled.
“Our church is senior people,” she recalled. “They didn’t make it out.”
Two victims were listed in critical condition and four others in stable condition. Two of the victims are in their eighties, two in their sixties, and the usher is 22 years old.
Samson was cleared for release from the hospital by Sunday afternoon and will be arrested and charged with homicide and attempted homicide. The motive behind the shooting is yet unclear, but authorities have opened a civil rights case against Samson, who is black.