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25 Sep 2017

A gunman opened fire at a church on Sunday, killing one person and injuring seven

A gunman opened fire at a church in Tennessee on Sunday, killing one person and injuring seven others, the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department said.

The Department of Justice and the FBI have opened a federal civil rights investigation of the shooting at Burnette Chapel Church of Christ in Antioch, a neighborhood in Davidson County governed by Nashville.

The first call reporting multiple gunshots came in around 11:15 a.m. CT, police spokesman Don Aaron said. The gunman shot Melanie Smith, 39, as church was letting out before entering the church with two pistols and continuing to shoot.

Suspect Emanuel Kidega Samson, 25, was hospitalized for gunshot wounds and released to police custody. He was charged with felony homicide and was being held without bond, police said. Other charges are coming later, according to police. His next court appearance is Wednesday.

Authorities are still investigating a potential motive for the shooting, MNPD chief Steve Anderson said.

The gunman was in the church's parking lot as a prayer service was letting out, Aaron said. He shot and killed Smith as she was walking to her car.

He entered the church through the sanctuary's main door and "began indiscriminately shooting," Aaron said. There were approximately 50 people still inside the sanctuary when the shooting began. Six were wounded by gunfire and another was pistol whipped, Aaron said.

A church usher identified as 22-year-old Robert Engle saw the shooting and confronted the gunman, Aaron said. During a struggle, the gunman mistakenly shot himself.

"It would appear he was not expecting a brave individual like the church usher to initiate the struggle and confrontation," Aaron said.

Police initially said the suspect was African-American. Later, police identified him as Sudanese with legal US residency.

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