When Pastor Ezekiel Ndikumana immigrated from Burundi in East Africa, surely the last thing on his agenda was stopping another church shooting as the pastor of the Nashville Light Mission Pentecostal Church in Tennessee.
In the United States, Black churches are too often the sites of tragedy, but thanks to the pastor’s quick thinking on Sunday, 26 year-old Dezire Baganda was stopped from harming over 60 parishioners in the service that day.
Now authorities and congregants alike are calling the pastor a hero. Ndikumana hasn’t made any public statements.
Here’s more from NBC News:
Dezire Baganda, 26, was sitting at the front of Sunday’s service at the Nashville Light Mission Pentecostal Church when he suddenly pulled out a gun and walked up to the altar, where the pastor was praying with several members, according to the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department.
He waved the gun around, told everyone to get up and “pointed the handgun at the congregation,” police said.
Harrowing surveillance video from the incident appears to show the suspect wave the gun in his hand facing the worshippers. The pastor tackled the suspect from behind and brought him to the ground, according to the footage.
Some shocked church attendees ran out of the church upon seeing the pastor spring into action. Others helped disarm Baganda before any shots were fired and kept him pinned to the ground until officers arrived to the scene, police said.
According to USA Today, Baganda told police he was Jesus while he was being taken into custody and that “all churches and schools need to be shot up.” He had attended Nashville Light Mission before but never became a member.
Baganda is currently charged with 15 counts of felony aggravated assault and the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department says that more charges may be coming.
Here’s video of the harrowing moment during the church service, from Today:
“God was taking care of me and everyone else in the building,” said Nzojibugami Noe, a choir member who sat in the front row, according to USA Today.