Antioch church shooting suspect to be charged with murder

Emanuel Kidega Samson, 25 (Source: Metro Nashville Police Department)
Emanuel Kidega Samson, 25 (Source: Metro Nashville Police Department)
Melanie Smith Crow was shot dead in the parking lot. (Source: WMC Action News 5)
Melanie Smith Crow was shot dead in the parking lot. (Source: WMC Action News 5)
(Source: WMC Action News 5)
(Source: WMC Action News 5)

NASHVILLE, TN (WMC) - One person is dead and seven wounded after a gunman opened fire inside the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ in Antioch, just south of Nashville.

Metro police in Nashville have identified that gunman as 25-year-old Emanuel Samson of Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

Police say he's been released from the hospital and will be charged with murder and attempted murder.

Now, police are trying to figure out what could have provoked the horrific act.

"The guy came from the right side of the church and he was just shooting, he was just shooting he went right to the middle and shot more," said witness Minerva Rosa.

The bullets started flying as the worship service ended around 11:15 a.m. One woman was shot dead in the parking lot. Sunday peace was shattered by a gunman at the Tennessee church.

Police identified the woman killed as Melanie Smith Crow, 39, of Smyrna. People who knew Melanie prayed for her, describing her as a very sweet person.

"He shot the first lady in the back in the parking lot by that green Explorer, then he turned around, rolled her over, and shot her in the face," said witness Joe Love.

Investigators said the 25-year-old masked gunman went into the church through a back door, then moved to the sanctuary shooting.

"Multiple rounds were fired inside the church," said Metro Police spokesman Don Aaron at a press conference.

Officials said the Tennessee resident is a native of Sudan.

The U.S. Department of Justice has opened a civil rights investigation into the shooting.

"I was shaken up, I'll be honest with you," said churchgoer James Engle Jr.

Engle was just outside the church when the shooting started and the church erupted into chaos.

"They were running, screaming, hollering and hid behind those buses," Engle said.

Engle said the suspect kept shooting, even loading in another clip.

Witnesses said the suspect had a half mask on, similar to a ski mask, and a heavy jacket. They said he didn't say a word.

Engle tried to get behind the suspect, but he left his gun at home. His son Caleb was walking with a man on a walker who was shot.

Caleb was pistol-whipped but was able to subdue Samson.

"I hear Caleb say, 'The shooter is down. Is everybody OK,'" Engle said.

As the fight continued, investigators said the gunman shot himself, but it's unclear if that was intentional.

"Mr. Engle is the hero," Aaron said. "Mr. Engel saved countless lives here today. It could have been much worse."

Aaron said Engle, after the scuffle, went to his car and retrieved a gun and forced Samson to remain on the ground.

Five other victims were taken to Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Two people were taken to Skyline Medical Center.

Vanderbilt University Medical Center said two victims were critically injured and four victims were in stable condition. Two of the patients at Vanderbilt suffered gunshot wounds to the chest and torso areas. The other four patients there suffered gunshot wounds to their extremities.

The church's pastor, David Spann, 60, is in critical condition at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. William Jenkins, 83, Marlene Jenkins, 84, Peggy Spann, 65, and Linda Bush, 68, are in stable condition.

Katherine Dickerson and Engle are in stable condition at Skyline Medical Center, according to a hospital spokesman.

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam issued a statement on the shooting, offering his prayers.

Authorities believe as many as 50 people were in the church at the time of the attack. Thankfully no children were in the sanctuary.

There's still no motive for the shooting or word of any relationship between the gunman and his victims.

People at the church said the suspect had been at the church a couple of years ago helping out with some other guys.

However, they said they didn't really know him.

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