On Sunday, a 22-year-old church usher was the hero who stopped a church shooting.
At 11:15 am on September 24th, an unidentified shooter, who was later confirmed to be Emanual Samson, 25, entered the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ in Antioch, Tennessee, and opened fire. He killed one woman and wounded six others.
One man, Robert Engle, an usher at the church, wasn’t about to stand by and let more people die. He rushed up to the shooter and engaged in a struggle, reported ABC News.
"He's the hero,” said Metro Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson at a news conference. “He's the person who stopped this madness."
According to accounts, Samson entered the church’s parking lot around 11 a.m. As he walked up to the church, he fatally shot 39-year-old Melanie Smith, who was walking to her car.
“Samson, who was wearing a neoprene half-mask, then entered the church and began to shoot "indiscriminately," wounding six people who were later treated for non-life-threatening injuries, according to police,” relates ABC News.
Engle went up to the gunman to prevent more innocent people from being injured. The gunman pistol-whipped Engle, but then Samson accidentally shot himself in the chest during the struggle.
“Engle eventually ran out to his car to retrieve his own pistol, which he used to hold the suspect at gunpoint until police arrived,” officials said.
These are quite clearly heroic actions, but the young man, who has been attending the church since he was a small child, doesn’t consider himself a hero.
“I do not want to be labeled a hero," said Engle in a statement Sunday. "The real heroes are the police, first responders, and medical staff, and doctors who have helped me and everyone affected.”
The young man also revealed his strong Christian faith. He asked everyone to pray for those who were impacted by the shooting—including the shooter and his family.
"I ask everyone to pray for the victims, family members of the victims, our church community. Please pray for healing,” said Engle before adding, “Also, please pray for the shooter, the shooter’s family and friends. They are hurting as well.”
The community responded by joining in prayer. They held a vigil at Ezell-Harding Christian School in response to the shooting.
One witness, Minerva Rosa, confirmed that Engle is, in fact, a hero. She said the situation had the potential to be much worse if he had not stopped Samson.
"He's amazing," Rosa told reporters on Sunday. "Without him, I think it could be worse. He was the hero today."
Engle's grandmother, 69-year-old Rheta Engle, was beaming with pride for her grandson. She told a local newspaper that is just what she’d expect her selfless grandson to do.
"That’s like him. He’s just someone who cares about a lot of people. He has all their feelings at heart," she told the Tennessean on Sunday afternoon. "It would make any parent, grandparent very, very proud of him."
Engle’s friend, Blake Langford, agree with Rheta Engle. He called his friend a “gentle giant” before celebrating his kind nature.
“He's just a great guy,” Langford told the Tennessean. “Just one of the kindest human beings you'll ever meet.”
Engle was released from the hospital on Sunday night. He is back home with family and friends.
As for the shooter, he was treated for a gunshot wound, and he is expected to be charged with one count of murder. Other charges are forthcoming.
Police reports also noted that Samson had attended the church within the past two years. At this time, the motive for the shooting is unclear. However, the Memphis FBI Field Office's Nashville Resident Agency, the Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Tennessee have opened a civil rights investigation into the shooting, says ABC News.
In other news, a heavily armed man was arrested on his way to the White House. What was he planning to do there?