Gunman in Tennessee church shooting identified as Sudanese immigrant

A masked, lone gunman who killed one woman and injured seven others at church near near Nashville, Tenn., on Sunday has been identified by police as a legal U.S. resident who came from Sudan in 1996.

The suspect, Emanuel Kidega Samson, 25, accidentally shot himself at Burnette Chapel Church of Christ in Antioch, Tenn., about 10 miles southeast of downtown Nashville, after he was confronted by a member of the congregation, according to Metro Nashville Police.

Samson, a resident of neighboring Rutherford County who was not a U.S. citizen, was treated and released from Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville. He was transported to jail, and faces first-degree murder and attempted murder charges, according to Metro Nashville Police.

Melanie Smith, 39, of Smyrna, was killed in the parking lot before the gunman entered the church, police said. She was a single mother of two.

“Inside a church building a gunman opened fire on them, multiple rounds of fire inside the church,” Don Aaron, a spokesman for the Metro Nashville Police Department said to reporters. “At this juncture six persons, six innocent persons were wounded by gunfire inside the church.”

Caleb Engle, an usher at the church, scuffled with Samson, who sustained a self-inflicted wound in the left chest. Engle, who was pistol-whipped, then went to his car where he retrieved a gun, and forced Samson to stay on the ground, police said.

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

But Engle said in a statement: “I do not want to be labeled a hero. The real heroes are the police, first responders and medical staff and doctors.”

WSMV-TV reported church members told police that Samson had attended the church a year or two ago.

Among those injured were the church’s minister Joey Spann, 60, and his wife, Peggy, 65. He is a Bible teacher, and a high school and middle school basketball coach at Nasvhille Christian School, according to its Facebook page.

A spokesman for Vanderbilt University Medical Center said Joey Spann was listed in critical-stable condition and the others were in stable condition.

Engle and another church member were listed in stable condition at Skyline Medical Center, according to a hospital spokesman.

Police received a call about a shooting as the people were leaving the church at 11:15 a.m. The service began at 10 a.m.

The gunman, wearing a ski mask, arrived in a blue SUV, WKRN-TV reported.

Joe Love, 67, who lives with his wife Donna Love, 56, across the street from the church, said they initially thought the sounds were a nearby car crash.

“He shot her like she was a damn dog in his backyard,” Love told the Tennessean.

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