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Nashville Church To Hold Prayer Vigil After Shooting

Posted: Monday, September 25, 2017 – 11:09 AM

The Nashville church where a gunman killed one and wounded six others over the weekend has convened a prayer vigil for Monday night, as the city absorbs the shock of the attack.

The shooting rampage Sunday in the southern city best known for its country music heritage, claimed the life of Melanie Crow Smith, 39, and wounded six others who ranged in age from 60 to 84, police said. 

None of the other injuries were said to be life-threatening. 

The Burnette Chapel Church of Christ, the scene of the shooting, planned a vigil Monday night, following one Sunday at a school.

“We are beyond grateful for the enormous outpouring of love and compassion,” the church posted on Facebook. 

Mayor Megan Barry said the incident was “a terrible tragedy,” as witnesses described a harrowing ordeal in which they pretended to be dead and placed barricades to survive the attack by a 25-year-old who had previously attended the church.

Emanuel Kidega Samson was charged with murder and held without bond. Police said more charges were forthcoming.

The shooting began as Sunday services were ending. Some parishioners blocked doors with furniture to slow the masked gunman, according to The Tennessean newspaper.

Catherine Dickerson, who was shot in the leg, was cornered outside, the newspaper said.

“He had the gun straight ahead of him, holding it with both hands,” Dickerson was quoted by the newspaper as saying.

“I just laid quietly and played like I was dead.”

Authorities said in a court filing that Samson fired “randomly.”

He was finally stopped by usher Robert Caleb Engle, 22, who fought with Samson, and in the struggle was pistol-whipped about the head, police said. Samson was shot in the chest with his own weapon, according to police.  

“(Engle) is the hero. He’s the person that stopped this madness,” Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson told a news conference. 

Samson — who police say admitted to firing “upon the church building” — was treated and released from a hospital. Police found four guns — two pistols in the church, and a pistol and rifle in Samson’s SUV. 


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