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Police say guns used in mass church shooting purchased legally in Tennessee

(Metro Police photos)

Metro Nashville Police said Wednesday the shooter legally purchased one of the guns used in last weekend's mass shooting and was given the other three from a relative.

Police said the suspected shooter Emanuel Samson purchased the .22 caliber pistol, later found in his car, from a store in Rutherford County in 2015. A relative interviewed by law enforcement said the other three guns found at the scene were given to Samson for safe keeping.

The gun used in the shooting, a .40 caliber pistol, was purchased from a retailer in Rutherford County in August of last year by the relative.

That relative also purchased the AR-15 rifle at the same retailer in February 2014 and the 9 mm pistol in Wilson County in August of last year.

Metro Police said they are still investigating the motive for the shooting. Samson has previously attended the church when he came to the U.S. from Sudan but had not been an active member in years.

An arrest affidavit said suspected shooter Emanuel Kidega Samson told Metro Police that he was "armed with a handgun" and that he "fired upon the church building."

Police said Samson went into the church armed with a 40 caliber and 9 mm pistols, both semi-automatic and fully loaded. He was also wearing a tactical vest with three additional rounds of ammunition; one loaded 40 cal magazine and two loaded 22 cal magazines.

Metro Nashville Police Spokesperson Don Aaron said Samson used the 40 cal pistol exclusively in the shooting, as the 9 mm was recovered fully loaded. Samson is accused of firing a total of 12 rounds during the shooting.

Police suspect that he reloaded the 40 cal pistol once because they found and empty magazine inside the church.

Outside in Samson's vehicle, officers recovered a 22 caliber, semi-automatic pistol and an AR 15 rifle. Police said the AR 15 was inside its case and found no ammunition for it both on Samson's person or inside the car.

Don Aaron said the usher, later identified as 22-year-old Robert Engle, was pistol whipped as he confronted Samson, who then apparently shot himself during the struggle. Aaron said the usher then went to his own car to retrieve his gun, returned and stood over the suspect until police arrived.

Samson is charged with murder. He's being held at Maximum Correctional Center along Harding Place. Additional charges are expected.

The ATF and FBI are investigating. The U.S Justice Department is looking at this case as a possible civil rights case.

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