Photo: Suspect Emanuel Kidega Samson
The masked gunman at a Nashville area church pulled into the parking lot as services were ending, around 11 a.m., and fatally shot a woman who was walking to her car.
He then entered the church and walked down the aisle as he shot unsuspecting congregants. Seven others were shot.
An usher confronted the shooter. A struggle ensued and the suspect shot himself in the chest. It is unknown whether it was intentional.
The usher, 22-year-old Robert Engle, is being called a hero by those at the church. He was ‘pistol whipped’ by the suspect and treated at the hospital.
Fox News reports that the suspect had attended services a year or two ago.
The motive is not known but the Department of Justice has opened up a civil rights investigation.
Authorities identified the attacker as Emanuel Kidega Samson, 25, of Murfreesboro, who came to the United States from Sudan in 1996 and was a legal U.S. resident.
The suspect has been released from the hospital and is in police custody for murder and attempted murder.
Forty-two people were at the church at the time of the shooting, and that all victims were adults.
Photos on the church’s Facebook page show a diverse congregation with people of various ages and ethnicities.