One person was killed and seven others injured after a masked gunman opened fire at a Tennessee church late Sunday morning before he shot himself and was taken into custody, police said.
Officers responding to the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ in Antioch found one woman dead in the parking lot, six other “innocent persons” shot and an usher pistol-whipped, a Metro Nashville Police spokesman said at an afternoon press conference.
“The majority are older adults,” the Nashville Fire Department said of the victims, adding that all of the people hospitalized, except one, were over the age of 60.
Authorities have not yet provided details about the dead woman.
The gunman, identified by police as 25-year-old Emanuel Kidega Samson, allegedly started his attack just as church services were letting out around 11 a.m. local time, Nashville Metro Police spokesman Don Aaron said.
The gunman, wearing a ski mask, fatally shot the woman in the parking lot as she was walking to a car. He then entered the church through a rear door, leaving his car running nearby, Aaron said.
“He began indiscriminately shooting,” Aaron said of the gunman’s attack. “Multiple shots were fired inside the church.”
An usher who tried to overtake the gunman was pistol-whipped by the suspect. Despite being injured, the usher managed to flee to his car to retrieve a gun, for which he had a carry permit. Once armed, a struggle ensued between the usher and the gunman, who shot himself in the chest, “probably not intentionally,” said Aaron.
“It would appear that he was not expecting a brave individual, like the church usher, to initiate a struggle and confrontation,” Aaron said.
The suspect’s injuries are not believed to be life-threatening, Aaron said, adding that his relationship with the church’s congregation is unknown.
All of those injured in the incident were hospitalized, Aaron said. He described one of the hospitalized victims as “in more serious condition than the others,” without providing more details.
Police said Samson will be charged with murder and attempted murder.
A woman who said she lives next-door to the church recalled hearing loud noises outside her home before she said two people came to her door seeking help.
“There’s two people that came up to our door and said someone is shooting at us, at the church,” the woman told WKRN.
The woman said her husband went to the church and saw some of the victims firsthand.
“One was in the parking lot that he had shot, in the back, and then he went into the church and there was someone lying in the doorway and some other people shot,” the woman recalled.
This article has been updated with the name of the suspect. A previous version reported that the police said the suspect was 26 years old. They have since said he is 25.