Suspect in Tenn. Church Shooting Charged With Murder, Held Without Bond

Emanuel Kidega Samson (Metro Nashville Police Department)
Emanuel Kidega Samson (Metro Nashville Police Department)

The suspect in a horrific shooting at a church outside Nashville, Tenn., that left one dead and six injured will be facing murder charges, and multiple other charges are pending, police say.


The alleged attacker, identified by police as 25-year-old Emanuel Kidega Samson, was ordered held without bond, the Associated Press reports. 

The chaos and terror at the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ unfolded Sunday around 11:15 a.m. Church member Minerva Rosa told AP that members were discussing the success of their yard sale the day before when they heard gunshots from outside.


David Spann, the church’s pastor, shouted, “Run, run, gunshots!” as members hid under pews or in bathrooms, according to the report.

The gunman, who wore a mask, fatally shot one congregant, 39-year-old Melanie Smith, outside the church before walking into the church from the back, armed with two guns, officials said. The shooter then walked through the church shooting six others before he was taken down by an usher, Robert Engle, who is now being hailed as a hero.

Witnesses say that Engle, 22, tackled the shooter, who pistol-whipped him. Amid the struggle, the shooter shot himself (it is not clear whether or not this was on purpose), and Engle went to get his own gun from his vehicle, holding the man until police arrived.

“He’s amazing,” church member Rosa told reporters of Engle. “Without him, I think it could be worse. He was the hero today.”


Those who were injured in the shooting were identified as 65-year-old Peggy Spann, the pastor’s wife; William and Marlene Jenkins, ages 83 and 84, respectively; 68-year-old Linda Bush; and 64-year-old Katherine Dickerson. None of them suffered life-threatening injuries, officials say.

Authorities have identified no motive for the shooting as yet. Samson had attended services at the church a year or two ago, officials say.


Metro Nashville Police spokesperson Don Aaron echoed Rosa’s words, calling Engle “an extraordinarily brave individual.”

However, Engle shied away from the praise, saying that he did not want to be called a hero.


“The real heroes are the police, first responders, and medical staff and doctors who have helped me and everyone affected,” said Engle, who asked for prayers for all of those impacted, as well as for the shooter himself.

Read more at Talking Points Memo.



The “Please Don’t Let Them Be Black” prayers didn’t work, this time. Oh well, rot in jail, asshole.