Case of accused Tennessee church gunman bound to grand jury; Hero, detective testify


ANTIOCH, Tenn. (WKRN) – The accused Antioch church shooter’s case was bound over to a grand jury early Monday morning.

Emanuel Samson was initially scheduled to appear in court but waived his rights.

Despite his decision not to appear,  the man who confronted Samson testified, as did a Metro police officer, revealing more details of the shooting.

“We heard the preacher say, ‘There is a gun! Run!,’” recalled Robert “Caleb” Engle. “As he was getting closer, I believe there were more shots being discharged.”

“I seen the shooter come into the building and waving his weapon around, and then I seen him discharge at the preacher,” his testimony continued.

Engle, 22, bravely confronted the gunman after the pistol-bearing man opened fire on the congregation at Burnette Chapel Church of Christ on Sept. 24.

“I stood right up in front of him,” he told the court room. “His weapon was in his right hand. He aimed at the ground and then he aimed it at me.”

When asked what he did, Engle explained, “I had stuck my left had out and pushed it back onto him. The weapon discharged.”

The young church usher ultimately suffered a “significant injury to the head” during the struggle, and amid the confrontation, the gunman accidentally shot himself.

“He… we both just kind of looked at each other and then he fell down face first on the ground,” Engle said.

Engle then ran out to his car to get his own gun and held it on the suspect until police arrived.

“I yelled out, ‘The shooter is down. Is everyone okay?’ And then my father come up between two pews and he immediately kicked the weapon away, stood on the shooter’s hand, and asked me where my weapon was. And I told him it was in my truck. He said, ‘Go to your truck, get your weapon.’ So I did, and as soon as I walked back in, I put my foot on his back and held him there.”

A detective with the Metro Nashville Police Department testified as well, focusing on Samson’s behavior after authorities arrived.

“He was very calm and willing to talk. He was kind of indifferent. He kind of seemed like he wasn’t overly excited. When I tried to interview him, I had to ask him to speak up. He spoke in a very low voice an mumbled somewhat,” explained Detective Steve Jolley.

“At one point during the interview, he did become slightly emotional. He cried a little bit, but other than that he was stoic,” he continued.

One person was killed in the shooting and six others were injured. Samson is charged with murder, and additional charges are expected.

He is being held without bond. A motive for the shooting still has not been determined.

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