For reasons currently unknown, 25-year-old legal Somali immigrant Emanuel Kidega Samson shot several members of the congregation at the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ in Antioch, Tennessee yesterday. One woman was killed during the attack, which left eight others wounded. The masked gunman never said a word during his shooting spree. He first murdered Melanie Smith, a 39-year-old wife and mother, in the parking lot before entering the church, where he shot seven more people before finally being subdued.
Only the heroic actions and quick thinking of two young men kept this senseless tragedy from becoming a full-blown massacre.
As soon as he realized the sounds coming from the sanctuary were gunshots, 10-year-old Jeremiah Reese quickly used furniture to build a barricade at the door to a separate room in the church, where a number of congregation members had taken refuge.
Though unarmed himself, usher Robert “Caleb” Engle courageously grappled with the “lone wolf” assailant in hand-to-hand combat. Engle was pistol-whipped for his efforts, but during their struggle for control of the weapon, Samson somehow managed to accidentally shoot himself in the chest, bringing an abrupt end to the assault before anyone else could get hurt.
Engle then held Samson at gunpoint until police arrived. The injured are being treated at local hospitals; two people remain in critical condition.
Aside from a few cryptic clues the killer posted on social media prior to his assault on the church, there aren’t any known motives for the attack, though mental illness seems to be a strong possibility. His last posts on Facebook strangely said, “Everything you’ve ever doubted or made to believe as false, is real. & vice versa, B”.
He also posted “Become the creator instead of what’s created” and pictures of himself in bodybuilding poses with the caption “Unrestricted, paroxysm (which means a sudden, violent attack).”
Reports indicate that Samson briefly attended the church in the past, but hadn’t been there in several years. This tragic incident does not appear to be related to radical Islamic terrorism at this time.