The case against the accused Burnette Chapel Church shooter

Local News

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Emanuel Samson’s trial will likely start Monday. His case is sealed but News 2 knows several pieces of evidence that prosecutors plan to use to convict. 

The case against 27-year-old Emanuel Samson begins with a letter that Metro Police said he wrote before he drove to Burnette Chapel Church in Antioch on September 24, 2017. 

In the letter, Samson said he was seeking revenge for the 2015 shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Church in Charleston. 

Dylan Roof was convicted for shooting and killing nine people and was sentenced to death. 

Davidson County prosecutors said they would not seek the death penalty for Samson. 

Samson was indicted March 2018 on 42 charges including first-degree murder, aggravated assault and civil rights intimidation. 

29-year-old Melanie Crow Smith was killed in the parking lot of Burnette Chapel minutes before service ended. 

Samson is accused of then going into the sanctuary, shooting six other people and pistol-whipping a seventh person. 

A church usher was able to stop Samson and hold him until police arrived. 

“After I ducked between the pews, I kind of popped up and looked, and I seen him walking back towards the exit,” said Robert Engle in court in October 2017. “As soon as I did, his back was toward me. I walked up to him, and grabbed his arm, trying to turn him around towards me. That was when he hit me in the head with the butt of his weapon.” 

On January 29, 2017 – months before the shooting – Samson’s ex-girlfriend dialed 911 saying he was throwing her stuff, scratched her arm and that she feared he would hurt himself. 

About two months later, Samson dialed 911 saying his ex was trying to get into his home. 

“She was beating on my door,” Samson told Murfreesboro dispatchers on March 11, 2017. “I opened the door and she tried to force her way in here. I let her know that she wasn’t welcomed and I didn’t want to see her and what not and she said, she was yelling and cursing stating that she doesn’t care if I called the cops or what not.” 

Charges were not filed in either case. 

Two months before the church shooting, Samson’s father went to Murfreesboro Police and reported that his son was suicidal and may be trying to attempt suicide. 

He also told police he didn’t think his son should have access to guns. 

Samson has pleaded not guilty. The DA’s office is seeking life without the possibility for parole. 

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