A 22-year-old church usher is being called a hero after he confronted a gunman who opened fire inside of a Tennessee church and stopped the shooting rampage that left one woman dead and six others injured.
Robert Engle saw the suspected gunman, identified as Emanuel Kidega Samson, and jumped to stop him during the deadly shooting inside the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ in Antioch, witnesses say.
Engle then ‘physically engaged’ in a struggle with 25-year-old Samson in an effort to stop the shooting, police said.
The masked gunman accidentally shot himself in the struggle with Engle, who suffered a ‘significant injury around his head’ after being violently pistol-whipped.
Police say Engle ran to his car, grabbed his gun, and held the shooter at gunpoint until emergency officials arrived to the scene.
Later in the day, Engle released a statement where he rejected the ‘hero’ title and said: ‘The real heroes are the police, first responders and medical staff and doctors who have helped me and everyone affected.
Robert Engle (left), a 22-year-old church usher, is being called a hero after he confronted Emanuel Kidega Samson (right after his arrest), the alleged gunman who opened fire inside of a Tennessee church
The mass shooting at Burnette Chapel Church of Christ (scene above) in Nashville on Sunday left one woman dead and eight people wounded, including the gunman, who is in police custody
Engle (above) saw the gunman and jumped to stop him during the deadly shooting inside the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ in Antioch, witnesses say.
‘I ask everyone to pray for the victims, family members of the victims, our church community. Please pray for healing.
‘Also, please pray for the shooter, the shooter’s family and friends. They are hurting as well.’
Metropolitan Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson said of Engle: ‘He’s the hero. He’s the person who stopped this madness.’
His grandmother, Rheta Engle, told the Tennessean that she is so proud of her grandson.
‘That’s like him. He’s just someone who cares about a lot of people. He has all their feelings at heart,’ Rheta Engle said.
‘It would make any parent, grandparent very, very proud of him.’
A friend of the usher added that he is a ‘great guy. Just one of the kindest human beings you’ll ever meet.’
Engle (above) then ‘physically engaged’ in a struggle with Samson in an effort to stop the shooting, police said. The masked gunman accidentally shot himself in the struggle with Engle, who suffered a ‘significant injury around his head’ after being violently pistol-whipped
Metropolitan Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson said of Engle (above right): ‘He’s the hero. He’s the person who stopped this madness.’
Metropolitan Nashville Police said Engle was being treated at Skyline Medical Center after Sunday’s shooting.
Melanie Crow Smith, 39, of Smyrna, died when Samson allegedly opened fire at the church as services let out at 11.15am.
Family members and church parishioners said pastor Joey Spann and his wife Peggy Spann were also both shot. Married mother-of-two Smith died at the scene.
Police say that Samson, originally from Khartoum, Sudan but who now lives in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, was spotted in the parking lot wearing a mask before he shot dead Smith.
‘A gunman wearing a neoprene mask arrived in the parking lot and one woman who was walking to her vehicle was immediately fatally wounded by the gunman,’ Metro Nashville Police Department spokesman Don Aaron said at a press conference.
‘This particular church member has a handgun carry permit.
Samson is a Sudanese born body builder, who graduated from Smyrna High School and studied Psychology at Mott Community College
Police confirmed that the church goer shot dead allegedly by Samson was Melanie Smith, 39, of Smyrna (left and right)
Family members and church parishioners said pastor Joey Spann and his wife Peggy Spann (together above) were both shot in the shooting on Sunday. Their conditions are unknown
‘The usher went to his vehicle, got his gun, came back inside and made sure the gunman didn’t make anymore movements until the police department arrived.’
Alleged church shooter Emanuel Kidega Samson is pictured in booking photo
The alleged gunman, who went to Smyrna High School before studying psychology at Mott Community College, then entered the church through a main sanctuary door and began firing multiple rounds.
He appears to have made a number of cryptic Facebook posts on Sunday morning, moments before his rampage, writing: ‘Everything you’ve ever doubted or made to be believe as false, is real. & vice versa, B.’
In another, he wrote: ‘Become the creator instead of what’s created. Whatever you say, goes.’
Samson’s public records do not list any criminal charges against him. He had lived in Rutherford County and in South Nashville near Burnette Bethel Church of Christ
Samson’s public records do not list any criminal charges against him. He had lived in Rutherford County and in South Nashville near Burnette Bethel Church of Christ (scene pictured above)
Earlier reports from local media said the shooter was wearing a clown mask. But Metro Nashville Police Department spokesman Don Aaron said Sunday that is false and the gunman wore a neoprene ski mask. Above police check the shooter’s SUV for explosives
A spokesman for Vanderbilt University Medical Center said two of the victims are critically injured, with four others in stable condition, The Tennessean reported. All six patients are adults – three men and three women.
‘The two critical patients suffered gunshot wounds to (their) chest and torso,’ John Howser, spokesman for the hospital, told the newspaper.
‘The four other patients suffered gunshot wounds to their extremities.’
Engle, whose two passions appear to be God and guns, according to his Facebook page, was taken to TriStar Skyline Medical Center along with the last shooting victim.
The church usher, a former warehouse worker, lives in Mount Juliet, Tennessee.
Pastor Spann reportedly teaches Bible classes at the Bellevue school. The school released the following statement: ‘As you may already know, one of our Bible teachers, Joey Spann, and his wife were both injured in the church shooting this morning at Burnette Chapel Church of Christ in Antioch.
The pastor teaches Bible classes at the Bellevue school. The couples’ (above) family members and friends posted on Facebook requesting prayers for them following the shooting
Engle (left and right) was pistol whipped by Samson while wrestling with the shooter for the gun. He is currently in hospital being treated for his injuries
Samson’s (pictured) condition is not life-threatening. He was under heavy police guard at Vanderbilt Medical Center where he was being treated before being transferred to the jail
‘We do not have any additional information at this time but want to boldly ask you to pray. Please lift up Coach Joey Spann and his wife Peggy and all who have been injured or impacted by this tragic event.
‘We will keep you informed when we have more information. Thank you for being a part of our family of faith and for interceding on behalf of the Spanns.’
The couples’ family members and friends posted on Facebook requesting prayers for them following the shooting.
Earlier reports from local media said the shooter was wearing a clown mask. But Aaron said that is false and the gunman wore a neoprene ski mask.
Police are not aware of any relationship between Samson and the church or parishioners, Aaron said during the first press conference.
Approximately 50 people were inside the church at the time of the shooting, officials say.
Police have not released a motive for the shooting and are still investigating the incident. Samson, the alleged gunman, is pictured above
The shooter arrived to the church in a blue SUV and police are working to secure the vehicle, as the bomb squad is on the scene.
Earlier in the day on Sunday, Nashville Fire Department tweeted that it was a ‘mass casualty situation.’
‘This is a mass casualty situation. All of the wounded have been transported to area hospitals. The majority are older adults,’ the fire department tweeted.
All of those wounded in the shooting except for one person is over the age of 60.
Former Burnette Chapel Church of Christ pastor Bill Hunter said: ‘I’m just absolutely stunned, I can’t believe that someone would come in off the street and start shooting.’
The church hosts weekly service at 10am and is located on Pin Hook Road.
Police are not aware of any relationship between Samson and the church or parishioners, Aaron said during the first press conference. Pictured above is police tape lines outside of the church on Sunday
Kaitlyn Adams, a member of the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ, hugs another church member at the scene after a deadly shooting at the church on Sunday
In response to the shooting, U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper tweeted: ‘Horrified by the killing in Antioch. Following reports and hopeful that injured victims recover quickly.’
Mayor of Metropolitan Nashville and Davidson County Megan Barry issued a statement about the shooting.
‘This is a terrible tragedy for our city. My heart aches for the family and friends of the deceased as well as for the wounded victims and their loved ones,’ her statement reads.
‘Their lives have been forever changed, as has the life of their faith community at Burnette Chapel Church of Christ.
‘My administration, especially the Metro Nashville Police Department, will continue to work with community members to stop crime before it starts, encourage peaceful conflict resolution, and promote non-violence.’
Mayor of Metropolitan Nashville and Davidson County Megan Barry issued the above statement about the shooting