A Tennessee man was arrested yesterday after opening fire in his former church, killing one person and injuring at least six others, police said.
Emanuel Kidega Samson, 25, allegedly arrived at Nashville’s Burnette Chapel Church of Christ with a handgun shortly before 11 am, just as morning church services were ending, he told police. He was charged with first-degree murder, and other charges are expected.
Catherine Dickerson, one of the injured church parishioners, told USA Today what she saw.
“I looked to my right and didn’t see anything,” Dickerson said. “Then another gunshot went off and someone said, ‘He’s got a gun!’"
“He was in black and had a black mask with white little markings on it,” Dickerson added. “He had the gun straight ahead of him, holding it with both hands. I saw one lady and she was going down.”
She ran toward the church, at which point the gunman shot her in the left thigh. She fell down and landed on her back in the doorway of the church.
“I got up close to the wall so if somebody came in they would probably walk past me, and put my purse over my face so I couldn’t be seen,” Dickerson said. “I just laid quietly and played like I was dead.”
The shooter walked past her, and “never said anything.”
Melanie Smith, 39, was killed while she walked to her car during the shootings.
One church user, Caleb Engle, 22, confronted the gunman during the assault, and was “pistol whipped” in response. During the struggle, Samson allegedly shot himself in the leg, likely by accident, according to authorities.
Engle was able to go to his car and get his licensed firearm, holding the gunman at bay until police arrived.
Samson, a former parishioner at the church, is a legal US resident and immigrant from Sudan. Kenny Love, a Nashville-area singer, told NBC he went to high school with Samson.
"I was on Facebook and then someone said there was a shooting, and then they said the shooter was Emanuel K. Samson, and I said please don't let it be my friend," he said. "But then I looked, and it was, and I started crying. I couldn't believe it."
The FBI has launched a civil rights investigation into the shooting.
[Image: Metropolitan Nashville Police Department]