One Year Later: Where case stands against accused Antioch church shooter

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Monday marks one year since a gunman opened fire at an Antioch church killing one person and wounding several others.

On Sept. 24, 2017, Metro police were called to Burnette Chapel Church of Christ around 11:15 a.m. for a report of multiple people shot.

Police said 25-year-old Emanuel Samson, who had once attended the church, arrived minutes before service let out and shot and killed Melanie Crow Smith, 39, in the parking lot.

Samson then went inside the church sanctuary and fired while more than 40 people were inside, investigators said.

“He was just shooting,” described Minerva Rosa, a member of the church. “He came right to the middle and shot more.”

Six people inside of the church were shot, including Minister Joey Spann.

“When I fell down to the side, my wife raised up and she called out my name,” Spann told News 2. “I said, ‘Honey, he’s killed me. I’m dying. I’m sorry.'”

In the midst of the shooting, 22-year-old church usher, Caleb Engle confronted Samson.

“I stood right up in front of him. His weapon was in his right hand. He aimed at the ground and then he aimed it at me,” Engle said. “I had stuck my left hand out and pushed it back onto him. The weapon discharged.”

Samson was hit by the bullet.

Engle was able to hold the suspect at the church until police arrived.

The month after the shooting, a Metro police detective testified that a note found in Samson’s SUV referenced the 2015 massacre at a black church in South Carolina; however, the detective also told the court that Samson claimed he did not give much thought to race or religion and that he heard voices and had visions.

In March, Samson was indicted on 43 charges including first-degree murder. He has since pleaded not guilty to the charges against him.

Samson remains jailed awaiting trial, though a date has not been set.

The District Attorney’s Office has said it will seek life in prison without parole for Samson.

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