NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A Tennessee man who went on a shooting rampage at Burnette Church of Christ last September, killing one and injuring seven others, has been indicted on 43 counts by a grand jury.
The indictments against Emanuel Samson include one count of first-degree murder, seven counts of attempted first-degree murder, 24 counts of aggravated assault, and three counts of civil rights intimidation.
“The grand jurors of Davidson County, Tennessee, duly impaneled and sworn, upon their oath, present that: Emanuel Kidega Samson on the 24th day of September 2017, in Davidson County, Tennessee, and before the findings of this indictment unlawfully, intentionally, and with premeditation did kill Melanie Lorene Crow, in violation of Tennessee Code … and against the peace and dignity of the State of Tennessee,” the official indictment document reads, referring to the woman who was killed in the parking lot of the church.
The grand jury indictment also concludes that Samson “intentionally and with premeditation” attempted to kill David “Joey” Spann, the pastor of Burnette Church of Christ, along with his wife and five others. It states that he additionally caused others present in the building to “reasonably fear imminent bodily injury.”
“The grand jurors … present that … Emanuel Kadega Samson … recklessly did engage in conduct which placed or which might have placed persons present at the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ in imminent danger of death or bodily injury, said offense being committed with a deadly weapon,” the document states.
As previously reported, Samson, 26, reportedly was wearing a mask and holding two pistols when he arrived at Burnette Chapel Church of Christ in Antioch on Sept. 24 shortly after the end of the morning service.
He first came in contact with member Melanie Smith, 39, as she was walking to her car, and shot her to death. Samson then proceeded to enter the church where he “began indiscriminately shooting” at those inside, according to police.
Robert “Caleb” Engle, 22, an usher, confronted Samson, being pistol-whipped by the assailant. He then went to his vehicle to obtain his own pistol, as he had a permit to legally carry a firearm.
“There was a significant struggle between the two,” Nashville Police spokesman Don Aaron told NBC News. “During the struggle, the gunman shot himself—probably not intentionally—in the left pectoral muscle.”
Engle then ensured that Samson stayed still until police arrived on the scene.
Following the incident, some members of the congregation advised that Samson had attended the church a year or two prior. A 2010 post on his Facebook page reveals that Samson, at one point, was aspiring to be a preacher.
“I came too long of a way—all the way from Africa—to come to America and fail. I must say, that’s a complete no-no!” Samson, who immigrated to the U.S. from Sudan in 1994, wrote. “I’m aiming at [being a] psychologist; but also becoming a preacher. Either way, it may go in my life as I pursue to do what the Lord has called me to do…”
Although it is not known as to when, he also liked a number of Christian-themed pages, including “I Love Jesus,” “Resolved to Know Christ, “Reaching the Lost” and “Jesus the Savior,” and liked the films “Passion of the Christ” and “Left Behind.”
However, Samson also posted or liked much material that was laden with profanity, violence or other ungodly thought, and in the hours before the shooting, expressed instability as he wrote, “Become the creator instead of what’s created. Whatever you say goes.”
“Everything you’ve ever doubted or made to be believed as false, is real and vice versa,” Samson also posted.
On Aug. 2, he posted a video about the “laws of Karma,” and also shared a photo on Aug. 10 of a boy meditating, who he referred to as “my young god.” On July 31, he posted a link entitled “Boyfriends Ranked Best to Worst Based on Their Zodiac,” and on July 22, he shared an article about being “awakened” that featured a photo of a “third eye.”
In October, Metro Homicide Detective Steve Jolley testified in Davidson County Criminal Court that Samson told him that he had been hearing voices.
“He made some comments about visions and voices a couple of times,” he said. “He was kind of indicating that he heard voices, and he had seen an image about that particular church. When I tried to get him to elaborate on it, he was very vague, and I couldn’t get him to elaborate on anything.”
Samson also reportedly advised that he had been struggling with emotional pain, and began to cry a bit when asked about the matter.
Samson is scheduled to be arranged on Tuesday before Judge Cheryl Blackburn.