Chapel usher hailed a hero after pouncing on gunman saving dozens of lives

An usher has been hailed a hero for jumping on a gunman who had just killed a woman and injured six others in a shooting spree at a church.

Emanuel Kidega Samson shot Melanie Smith, 39, dead in the car park of the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ, Tennessee, Nashville, then went inside and started firing at worshippers who were filing out at the end of the service.

But Robert Engle pounced on ski mask-wearing Samson and after a struggle which saw Mr Engle pistol-whipped around the head, the assailant shot himself in the chest, witnesses said.

Church usher Robert Engle, in picture with unidentified baby, is being treated for a “significant” head injury he suffered in the scuffle (Facebook/Dave Visser)

Mr Engle then went to his car, got his own weapon and held Mr Samson at gunpoint until the police arrived.

The FBI have launched a civil rights investigation into the shooting after racial reasons were given for Mr Samson’s attack.

Metropolitan Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson hailed Mr Engle, 22, as a hero after the incident on Sunday.

Mr Samson had been carrying at least two pistols, reports said, when he opened fire “indiscriminately” on worshippers before Mr Engle jumped on him.

“He’s the hero. He’s the person who stopped this madness,” Mr Anderson said during a news conference, according to a report in the Tennessean.

Mr Engle appeared to shrug off the praise and instead focused on the welfare of others.

He said in a statement, in a report by Tennessean: “I ask everyone to pray for the victims, family members of the victims, our church community.

“Please pray for healing. Also, please pray for the shooter, the shooter’s family and friends. They are hurting as well,” he added.

Mr Engle’s grandmother, Rheta, said it was his nature to help others.

She told the Tennessean: “That’s like him. He’s just someone who cares about a lot of people. He has all their feelings at heart.

“It would make any parent, grandparent very, very proud of him.”

A friend of Mr Engle’s added to the newspaper that he was a “great guy. Just one of the kindest human beings you’ll ever meet”.

Mr Engle was being treated in hospital for a “significant” head injury he suffered during the scuffle, police said.

The three men and three women shot in the chapel were also being treated for their injuries but were said to be in a stable condition.

Metropolitan Nashville Police Department said in a tweet Mr Samson had been released from hospital after he was…

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