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Police: Tennessee mass shooting suspect wore tactical vest, ammunition into church

(Metro Police photo)

Metro Nashville Police gave details on Monday about the weapons the accused shooter brought and a suspected motive for the mass shooting over the weekend.

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 described a chaotic scene at the Burnette Church of Christ in Antioch as a masked attacker armed with two guns shot seven people and killed one woman before he was subdued on Sunday.

All of the other injured church-goers are in stable condition as of Monday afternoon, according to Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

The church leader yelled for the congregants to run after the attacker came through the church silently shooting, according to a witness Sunday in a Nashville neighborhood. According to the affidavit, Samson was "firing randomly at parishioners."

Metro Police said they are still investigating the motive for the shooting. Samson has previously attended the church, but had not been an active member in years.

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 the suspect, 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.

Metro Police praised Engle for confronting the shooter and believe he may have saved many lives.

"We can't reiterate enough on what a hero Mr. Engle was in this," Aaron said.

Engle posted a statement asking for prayers for the victims and shooter's family and friends. He also said he does not want to be labeled a hero.

"I’ve been going to this church my whole life, since I was a small child. I would have never, ever thought something like this would have happened. I ask everyone to pray for the victims, family members of the victims, our church community. Please pray for healing. Also, please pray for the shooter, the shooter’s family and friends. They are hurting as well. I pray that through all of this that people will come to know Christ and I ask our nation to reflect on Romans 8:31: “If God is for us, who can be against us?” When complimented about his heroism he stated: “I do not want to be labeled a hero. The real heroes are the police, first responders and medical staff and doctors who have helped me and everyone affected. My hope is for privacy for all involved.”

Police arrived to find victim Melanie Smith, 39, shot to death in the parking lot.

Engle and Katherine Dickerson, 64, have since been released from the hospital. William Jenkins, 83, Marlene Jenkins, 84, David Spann, 60, Peggy Spann, 65, and Linda Bush, 68, remain in stable condition at the hospital.

Samson before the shooting

Metro Police said Samson was licensed as an unarmed security guard from January 2014 to January 2016. He recently attended a class to re-certify and worked a shift for security company on Saturday.

The Academy of Personal Protection and Security said Samson tried to renew his license to become a security guard a few days before the deadly Antioch church shooting.

A.P.P.S. said Samson worked as an unarmed security guard with Crimson Security of Murfreesboro. The suspect worked the 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. shift on Saturday and didn't show up for work on Sunday.

Metro Police said Samson sent an e-mail to Crimson Security at 10:01 a.m. on Sunday saying he appreciated the opportunity but would not be returning to work.

The investigation

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.

Metro police say the motive for the shooting is under investigation.

An official GoFundMe account has been set up for the church.

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