Accused church shooter says he has mental illness, ‘doesn’t remember’ attack

Crime Tracker
Emanuel Samson on the stand_1558558308002.JPG.jpg

Antioch Church shooting suspect Emanuel Samson testified that he woke up feeling suicidal the morning of the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ. 

Samson said he also couldn’t remember the shooting itself but did not deny that he was the gunman. 

“I remember driving past a stop light. I turned at a light. Some houses were on the left and that’s about it,” Samson said on the stand. 

“What is the next thing you remember?” His defense attorney, Jennifer Thompson, asked.

“I remember shooting myself,” said Samson, who shot himself in the chest inside Burnette Chapel Church after hero Caleb Engle confronted him.

Samson also points out that he has been diagnosed with schizo-affective disorder and PTSD. He is currently on lithium and an anti-psychotic. 

However, the prosecution didn’t buy his claims of not remembering. Samson said he doesn’t remember writing a note and leaving it on his dashboard, either. The note alluded to seeking revenge for the Charleston church shooting.

“I want to talk about the decisions you made even though you don’t remember conveniently, shooting and terrifying these people,” said Deputy Assistant District Attorney Amy Hunter. “

The now 27-year-old spoke in a calm, monotone voice as he testified for more than one hour and 20 minutes. 

He told the court he attended the church with his cousin for two years, five years ago.  

He described church members as good to him and his family. “They were very receptive, kind, warm compassionate. They were good to us.”

When asked if there was any reason to be angry with them, he said, “Not at all.” 

After trial wrapped up for the day, Pastor Joey Spann said it made him feel good knowing that Samson felt that way about the congregation but he also said he didn’t believe his former congregant’s self-proclaimed blackout. 

“I think the DA did a great job on showing his recollections are selective. I don’t know if he remembers or not,” said Spann. “He could be telling the truth, but I don’t think so.”

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