Crime: Burnette Chapel Church of Christ shooter, former MTSU student charged with one count of murder

Photo courtesy of Metro Nashville Police Department

Emanuel Kidega Samson, a Murfreesboro resident and former Middle Tennessee State University student, was charged Sunday evening with one count of murder after he committed a shooting at Burnette Chapel Church of Christ on Pin Hook Road in Antioch, Tennessee on Saturday.

According to MTSU Director of News and Media Relations Jimmy Hart, Samson attended MTSU for one semester in the spring of 2017. Samson was a pre-social work major at the university and dropped out for unknown reasons.

On the day of the shooting, Samson pulled into the Burnette Chapel Church parking lot in an SUV and parked for several minutes before the church service let out, according to a Metro Nashville Police Department press release. After churchgoers began to enter the parking lot, Samson opened fire on Melanie Crow Smith, 39. Smith then received fatal wounds and died on the scene.

The release states that Samson then entered the church sanctuary main doors and fired multiple shots into the crowd. Six people were injured by the subsequent shots, but none suffered fatal injuries. The churchgoers who were injured were identified as William Jenkins, 83, Marlene Jenkins, 84, David Spann, 66, Peggy Spann, 65, Linda Bush 68 and Catherine Dickerson, 64.

After Samson fired the shots, church usher Robert Caleb Engle, 22, confronted Samson, which resulted in Engle being hit by Samson’s gun. While the struggle occurred, Samson’s gun fired and struck Samson in the chest. Engle then ran out to the parking lot of the church and retrieved a pistol from his vehicle. He reentered the church and held Samson at gunpoint until police could arrive. Samson’s gunshot wound was treated at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and he was later discharged.

According to the release, the motives of the shooting are still under investigations, but multiple churchgoers claimed that Samson had attended the church in the past. According to a report by the Daily News Journal, Murfreesboro Police were called to Samson’s Murfreesboro apartment due to him sending a troubling text message to his father three months before the shooting. The text read, “… I have a gun to my head, have a nice F—–g life.” Murfreesboro Police checked on Samson at his apartment after the text was sent, but he did not appear to be suicidal at the time.

Metro Nashville Police Department’s centralized Homicide Unit is leading the shooting investigation and is being assisted by the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives .

To contact News Editor Andrew Wigdor, email

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