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'Run! Run! Gunshots!' Masked Gunman Targets Nashville Church in Deadly Rampage


A masked gunman went on a shooting rampage Sunday morning at a church in the Nashville area in Tennessee, killing one woman and wounding six others.

A church member says that as the gunman made his way down the aisle, the pastor started shouting, "'Run! Run! Gunshots!'" The shooter said nothing as he fired.

Police have identified the suspect as 25-year-old Emanual Kidega Samson, who had attended the church within the last two years. The suspect was shot during the incident but is alive and in custody.

The shooting took place at the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ in Antioch just outside of Nashville.

Police say 39-year-old Melanie Smith was shot dead while leaving the church, walking through the parking lot as the shooter arrived.

A church usher, 22-year-old Robert Engle, was pistol-whipped when he confronted Samson. The gunman was shot during that struggle. Then Engle managed to get his car and retrieve his personal firearm to confront the shooter again.

Witness Minerva Rosa said the usher was "a hero."

"He's amazing," said Rosa, a member of the church for eight years. "Without him, I think it could be worse."

A police spokesman called Engle, "an extraordinarily brave individual."  

Nashville's Fire Department reports all of the wounded except for one are over the age of 60.

There is no word yet on the shooter's motive. Police say he had two pistols when he entered the church. Samson reportedly came to the United States from Sudan in 1996 and was a legal U.S. resident "but not necessarily a U.S. citizen."

Nashville Christian School released a statement requesting prayers for two of their teachers who were shot during the rampage.

The Burnette Chapel Church of Christ describes itself on its website as a "friendly, Bible based group of folks who love the Lord and are interested in spreading His Word to those who are lost."

Photos on the church's Facebook page show a diverse congregation with people of various ages and ethnicities.


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