Sudanese Man Opens Fire in Predominantly White Tennessee Church, FBI Opens Civil Rights Case

They may want to check that Islamic connection, too.

On Sunday morning as services at the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ near Nashville, Tennessee, came to an end, 25-year-old Emanuel Kidega Samson, a legal Sudanese immigrant, walked in carrying two pistols and wearing a mask and opened fire, killing one woman and injuring seven others. His rampage ended after he injured himself with his own gun and was held at gunpoint by one of his victims.

Investigators pulled several unusual messages from Samson’s Facebook page posted just before he launched his attack, which occurred at around 11 a.m.:

“Everything you've ever doubted or made to be believe as false, is real. & vice versa, B.”

“Become the creator instead of what’s created. Whatever you say, goes.”

Samson was also a body builder and posted pictures of himself posing. He had also written about “unrestricted paroxysm,” which means a sudden attack or violent expression, just hours before his rampage.

According to multiple news reports, Samson immigrated legally from Khartoum, Sudan, in the 1990s, though he is not currently a U.S. citizen. He graduated high school in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and studied psychology at Mott Community College. It was also revealed that Samson had previously attended the church up to two years ago, but church members didn’t recognize him at first because of the mask. Samson’s criminal history includes several domestic disturbances involving a former girlfriend. Back in June, Samson’s father received a suicidal text from his son that read, “Your phone is off, I have a gun to my head. Have a nice f***ing life.”

Samson’s first victim was 39-year-old Melanie Smith. Samson pulled up to the church in his blue SUV and left it running. He encountered Smith in the parking lot and shot her in the back. He then approached the victim and turned her over and shot her in the face.

All of the victims were white and older: Pastor Joey Spann, 60, his wife Peggy Spann, 65; William Jenkins, 83; Marlene Jenkins, 84; Linda Bush, 68; and Katherine Dickerson, 64. 

The FBI has opened a civil rights investigation into the shooting.

Unlike the church shooting at a historically black church in Charleston two years ago, the media is straying away from mentioning race in this incident even though the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ could be considered a historically white church in the country town of Antioch. Also missing from the mainstream coverage are the multiple posts Samson made in support of Islam. Sudan is a majority Muslim country and it appears as though the shooter is very apologetic about the religion of his home country:

Another aspect of the story the media isn’t playing up is how Samson was stopped by a concealed-carry permit holder — a good guy with a gun. Usher and lifelong member of the church Robert Engle, 22, rushed Samson during the shooting and wound up pistol-whipped. With a significant injury, Engle ran out to his car to retrieve his firearm and ran back into danger, holding Samson at gunpoint until police arrived.

Engle is being heralded as a hero, not that he is taking any credit:

“The real heroes are the police, first responders and medical staff and doctors who have helped me and everyone affected.”

Samson’s Facebook page is currently active and searchable. He has been charged with murder as investigators search for the ever-elusive motive for this crime.