NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The heroic actions of a Nashville pastor and several of his parishioners saved a church from violence Sunday afternoon.
Metro police reported 26-year-old Dezire Baganda was sitting at the front of the Nashville Light Mission Pentecostal Church, located in the 900 block of West Trinity Lane, when he pulled out a gun and walked up to the altar where the pastor was praying along with several church members.
Baganda told everyone to get up while he waved and pointed the handgun at the congregation, according to Metro police. The pastor quickly tackled Baganda before he was able to fire any shots. Several church members jumped in to help wrestle the gun away from Baganda and hold him down until police arrived, according to investigators.
Pastor Ezekiel Ndikumana spoke with News 2 Sunday evening about his heroic actions.
“He wanted to kill, that’s what first came to my mind,” Ndikumana told News 2 as choir member Nzojibugami Noe translated for him. Noe was also in the first row during the incident.
“He was standing in the front of almost everybody. No one was behind him yet, so he could have done anything,” Noe recalled.
Church members sat down with News 2’s Nikki McGee, sharing video of the incident. Pastor Ndikumana can be seen walking behind Baganda pretending to exit the church before sneaking behind him and tackling him to the ground.
“I would say that God used me because I felt like I was going to use the back door as an example as going on by trying to go behind him. And then I felt the feeling that I would go and grab him… and that’s what happened,” Ndikumana said.
Baganda was not a member of the church, but the pastor said he had attended services before. He reportedly was asked not to attend services last February after interrupting pastors during their sermons. However, church members said he was never violent. He showed up up Sunday for the 10 a.m. service and remained calm until the outburst around 12:45 p.m.
The congregation credited Ndikumana with saving their lives, however, he explained their lives were in God’s hands the whole time. According to an arrest affidavit, while Baganda was being taken into custody he stated that he was Jesus and that all churches and schools need to be shot up.
“God wanted to show that he’s a powerful God,” Ndikumana explained. “One main thing I said, we had faith.”
Baganda was originally charged with 15 counts of felony aggravated assault. On Monday, 42 additional warrants were issued, bringing the total to 57 counts of felony aggravated assault.