Seven people were wounded, and one killed in a shooting on Sunday at Burnette Chapel Church of Christ in Antioch. The Tennessee church was just letting out from service, when a gunman shot a parishioner, Melanie Smith, in the parking lot, entered the church, and began shooting. He was tackled by a church usher, Robert Engle, and during the struggle, accidentally shot himself. Minerva Rosa, a parishioner who was in the sanctuary during the shooting, said of Engle, “I think it could be worse. He was a hero today.” Engle himself said that he didn’t wish to be seen as a hero, citing the police and first responders as the real heroes. “I’ve been going to this church my whole life, since I was a small child,” he said. “I would have never, ever thought something like this would have happened.” Engle asked for prayers for all the victims and their families, but also the shooter and his family and friends. “They are hurting as well.”
The shooter has been identified as Emanuel Samson, a Sudanese man with legal US residency. He had attended the church a year or two ago, according to parishioners, but hadn’t been recently. As of yet, no motive has been identified.
The Episcopal Bishop of Tennessee, the Rt. Rev’d John Bauerschmidt, has issued the following statement:
I ask for your prayers for the congregation of Burnette Chapel Church of Christ in Antioch, and for all affected by the shooting that took place there on Sunday morning.
Gun violence that reaches into a place of worship is a direct challenge to the Gospel of peace and our own call to be peacemakers. In the Diocese of Tennessee we are called to be responsive to a world that is in need of healing and reconciliation. This tragic event underscores that need, and reminds us of the challenge of being faithful Christians in this time and place.
We will know more about this tragedy in the coming days. Please continue to remember this congregation and our community in your prayers.