Burnette Chapel shooting

Coordinates: 36°02′48″N 86°34′59″W / 36.0468°N 86.5830°W / 36.0468; -86.5830
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Burnette Chapel shooting
Part of mass shootings in the United States and terrorism in the United States
LocationThe Burnette Chapel Church of Christ, Antioch, Tennessee
Coordinates36°02′48″N 86°34′59″W / 36.0468°N 86.5830°W / 36.0468; -86.5830
DateSeptember 24, 2017
11:15 a.m.
TargetWhite American churchgoers
Attack type
Mass shooting, hate crime, domestic terrorism
Deaths1 (Melanie Crow)
Injured8 (7 by gunfire, including the perpetrator)
PerpetratorEmanuel Kidega Samson
MotiveBlack nationalism, revenge for Charleston church shooting

A mass shooting occurred on September 24, 2017, when a gunman opened fire at the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ in Antioch, Tennessee, part of the Greater Nashville area, killing one person and injuring six others.

The perpetrator was identified as Emanuel Kidega Samson, a 25-year-old native of Sudan.[2] Samson was arrested after getting into an altercation with a bystander, and charged with first-degree murder and 43 other charges.[2] The suspect indicated that the attack was an act of revenge for the 2015 Charleston church shooting.


The gunman carried two handguns (leaving behind a .22-caliber Citadel 1911-22 Tactical semi-automatic pistol and a .223-caliber DPMS A-15 semi-automatic rifle in his blue Nissan Xterra), and after fatally shooting Melanie Crow outside, he entered the church from the rear, according to police. He then walked through the church, shooting six more people.[3]

At this point, according to police, the gunman was confronted by an usher, 22-year-old Robert Engle, whom he pistol-whipped. During the ensuing struggle, Samson accidentally shot himself in the chest. Engle ran to his car to get his own gun (a Ruger SR45) and pointed it at the wounded Samson until police arrived to arrest him. Engle was called a "hero" by police.[4][5]

Around 50 parishioners were in the church at the time of the shooting,[6] which was reported at 11:15 a.m. local time as church services were ending.[5]


The deceased woman was identified as 38-year-old Melanie Crow. She was first shot in the face, then in the back when she attempted to flee the gunman. Six other people aged between 60 and 83 were injured by gunfire; their injuries were non-life-threatening.[3][6][7]


The gunman, Emanuel Kidega Samson (born November 11, 1991), was a 25-year-old Sudanese native residing legally in the United States, having arrived as a child in 1996. He was allegedly carrying two handguns, a 9mm and a .40-caliber, and was wearing a ski mask at the time of the attack.[3][6][8]

Samson had been licensed to work as an unarmed security guard from 2014 to 2016, although his license was expired and he had been seeking its reinstatement.[9] Samson is a former member of the Burnette Chapel Church.[10]

A review of Samson's Facebook page by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) found sympathies and interests to black supremacist figures and groups like the New Black Panther Party and the Nation of Islam, as well as an affinity for conspiracy theories.[11] In the days leading up to the shooting, he posted "several cryptic messages" on his Facebook page.[3]

Samson had two domestic disputes with his girlfriend in Murfreesboro in January and February earlier that year, but was not arrested. Three months earlier, he reportedly told his father that he was about to commit suicide, which prompted a police response.[12]

Samson was charged with first-degree murder immediately subsequent to the shooting.[13] In a police interview, Samson suggested he was hearing voices and had a vision of the Burnette Chapel Church.[7] A psychiatrist testified in April 2019 that Samson had schizoaffective disorder bipolar type.[14]

Samson was scheduled to appear in Davidson County General Sessions court on September 27, and is being held at a county jail without bond. He allegedly had additional weapons in his vehicle,[3] as well as a note that referenced the Charleston church shooting of 2015, in which a white supremacist murdered nine African Americans.[7] The prosecution later claimed that Samson hoped to "kill at least 10 white people" in the shooting as revenge for the Charleston church shooting.[15]

On October 6, it was reported that a preliminary hearing had been set for October 23, 2017.[16]

Aftermath and reactions[edit]

Nashville Mayor Megan Barry said, "This is a terrible tragedy for our city. My heart aches for the family and friends of the deceased as well as for the wounded victims and their loved ones."[17]

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam said he was "praying for the victims and committed to supporting the Antioch community in the aftermath of this tragedy." The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Department of Justice have both launched civil rights investigations.[10][18]


Samson was indicted on 43 charges, including first-degree murder, aggravated assault, and civil rights intimidation.[14] His trial began on May 20, 2019.[14] Prosecutors argued that Samson arrived at the church with the intention of killing 10 white churchgoers as retaliation for the 2015 Charleston Church shooting, in which 9 African-American churchgoers were killed by a white supremacist.[14] Samson's defense argued that Samson's actions were not premeditated, and were instead spontaneous and intended to effectuate his suicide.[14]

Jurors deliberated for less than five hours before delivering the verdict against Emanuel Kidega Samson, and on May 24, 2019, the jury found him guilty of all 43 counts in the indictment, including first-degree murder and attempted murder. Samson was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.[19]

Emanuel Kidega Samson is currently incarcerated in the Riverbend Maximum Security Institution.[20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "State introduces note, mask of accused Antioch church gunman before shooting rampage".
  2. ^ a b Mattise, Jonathan (May 21, 2019). "State: Man in church shooting aimed to kill 10 white people". AP NEWS. Retrieved May 26, 2023.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Tennessee church shooter admits to crime as bizarre Facebook posts surface". Fox News. September 25, 2017. Retrieved September 25, 2017.
  4. ^ Boucher, Dave (September 24, 2017). "Nashville police identify 'hero' usher who confronted church shooter". The Tennessean. Retrieved September 25, 2017.
  5. ^ a b Caron, Christina (September 24, 2017). "Shooting at Tennessee Church Leaves One Dead and Seven Wounded". The New York Times. Retrieved September 25, 2017.
  6. ^ a b c Gee, Brandon (September 24, 2017). "Masked gunman rampages through Nashville church; usher uses personal weapon to subdue shooter". The Washington Post. Retrieved November 5, 2017.
  7. ^ a b c Tamburin, Adam (October 23, 2017). "Antioch church shooting suspect made comments about visions, voices during police interview". The Tennessean. Retrieved November 11, 2017.
  8. ^ "Tennessee Church Suspect May Have Sought Charleston Revenge". U.S. News & World Report. Associated Press. September 29, 2017. Retrieved November 11, 2017.
  9. ^ Sterling, Joe; Lynch, Jamiel; Grinberg, Emanuella (September 25, 2017). "New details emerge about suspected gunman in Tennessee church shooting". CNN. Retrieved November 11, 2017.
  10. ^ a b Andone, Dakin; Gamble, Justin; Watts, Amanda (September 24, 2017). "Shooter kills one, wounds 7 at Tennessee church". CNN. Retrieved November 11, 2017.
  11. ^ Johnson, Daryl (October 12, 2017). "DOJ opens a civil rights investigation of Antioch shooting". Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved November 11, 2017.
  12. ^ Alund, Natalie Neysa; Rau, Nate (September 25, 2017). "Nashville church shooting suspect made cryptic Facebook posts". USA Today. Retrieved November 11, 2017.
  13. ^ Silva, Daniella; Stelloh, Tom; Connor, Tracy (September 25, 2017). "Suspect Charged With Murder in Mass Shooting at Tennessee Church". NBC News. Retrieved March 26, 2017.
  14. ^ a b c d e Tamburin, Alan (May 20, 2019). "Emanuel Samson wanted to kill 'a minimum of 10 white churchgoers,' prosecutor says at trial". Tennessean. Retrieved May 20, 2019.
  15. ^ Mattise, Jonathan (May 20, 2019). "State: Man in church shooting aimed to kill 10 white people". Associated Press. Retrieved May 15, 2020.
  16. ^ Alund, Natalie Neysa (October 6, 2017). "Antioch church shooting suspect's preliminary hearing set for later this month". The Tennessean. Retrieved November 5, 2017.
  17. ^ "Nashville Mayor Megan Barry Statement on Burnette Chapel Church of Christ Shooting". www.nashville.gov. September 24, 2017. Retrieved September 25, 2017.
  18. ^ Gibson, Jake (September 24, 2017). "Deadly Tennessee church shooting: Sudanese immigrant arrested, FBI launches civil rights investigation". Fox News. Retrieved September 25, 2017.
  19. ^ "Jury sentences Emanuel Samson to life plus 291 years without parole for Antioch church shooting". The Tennessean.
  20. ^ "Detailed Results". Archived from the original on February 1, 2021. Retrieved February 19, 2020.