Masked gunman kills woman, wounds several others at Nashville church

A masked gunman killed a woman in the parking lot of a Tennessee church on Sunday morning and wounded six worshipers inside the building before shooting himself in a scuffle with an usher who rushed to stop the attack.

The suspect, identified as Emanuel Kidega Samson, 25, walked into Nashville's Burnette ChapelChurch of Christ wearing a ski mask and opened fire shortly after 11 a.m., spokesman Don Aaron of the Metropolitan Nashville Police told reporters.

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Shooting at Burnette Chapel Church of Christ in Nashville
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Shooting at Burnette Chapel Church of Christ in Nashville
The scene where people were injured when gunfire erupted at the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ, in Nashville, Tennessee, U.S., September 24, 2017. Metro Nashville Police Department/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY

Shooting suspect, Emanuel Kidega Samson.

(Photo: Metro Nashville PD)

The scene where people were injured when a gunman opened fire at the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ, in Nashville, Tennessee, U.S., September 24, 2017. REUTERS/Jamie Gilliam
The scene where people were injured when gunfire erupted at the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ, in Nashville, Tennessee, U.S. September 24, 2017. Nashville Fire Department/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY
The scene where people were injured when a gunman opened fire at the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ, in Nashville, Tennessee, U.S. September 24, 2017. REUTERS/Jamie Gilliam
ANTIOCH, TN - SEPTEMBER 24: Metro Nashville Police Department Public Affairs Manager Don Aaron answers questions related to the shooting at Burnette Chapel Church of Christ on September 24, 2017 in Antioch, Tennessee. One person was killed and seven were wounded when a gunman opened fire in the church. (Photo by Joe Buglewicz/Getty Images)
ANTIOCH, TN - SEPTEMBER 24: Jeff Enderson and Hailey Gilpin console people outside of the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ on September 24, 2017 in Antioch, Tennessee. One person was killed and seven were wounded when a gunman opened fire in the church. (Photo by Joe Buglewicz/Getty Images)
ANTIOCH, TN - SEPTEMBER 24: Law enforcement gathers around the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ on September 24, 2017 in Antioch, Tennessee. One person was killed and seven were wounded when a gunman opened fire in the church. (Photo by Joe Buglewicz/Getty Images)
ANTIOCH, TN - SEPTEMBER 24: People console each other outside of the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ on September 24, 2017 in Antioch, Tennessee. One person was killed and seven were wounded when a gunman opened fire in the church. (Photo by Joe Buglewicz/Getty Images)
ANTIOCH, TN - SEPTEMBER 24: People console each other outside of the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ on September 24, 2017 in Antioch, Tennessee. One person was killed and seven were wounded when a gunman opened fire in the church. (Photo by Joe Buglewicz/Getty Images)
ANTIOCH, TN - SEPTEMBER 24: People console each other outside of the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ on September 24, 2017 in Antioch, Tennessee. One person was killed and seven were wounded when a gunman opened fire in the church. (Photo by Joe Buglewicz/Getty Images)
ANTIOCH, TN - SEPTEMBER 24: Law enforcement personnel gather around the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ on September 24, 2017 in Antioch, Tennessee. One person was killed and seven were wounded when a gunman opened fire in the church. (Photo by Joe Buglewicz/Getty Images)
ANTIOCH, TN - SEPTEMBER 24: Police investigate a suspicious car in the parking lot of the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ on September 24, 2017 in Antioch, Tennessee. One person was killed and seven were wounded when a gunman opened fire in the church. (Photo by Joe Buglewicz/Getty Images)
ANTIOCH, TN - SEPTEMBER 24: Law enforcement personnel gather around the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ on September 24, 2017 in Antioch, Tennessee. One person was killed and seven were wounded when a gunman opened fire in the church. (Photo by Joe Buglewicz/Getty Images)
ANTIOCH, TN - SEPTEMBER 24: People console each other outside of the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ on September 24, 2017 in Antioch, Tennessee. One person was killed and seven were wounded when a gunman opened fire in the church. (Photo by Joe Buglewicz/Getty Images)
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As the church usher grappled with the suspect, he was struck in the head with the gunman's weapon before the suspect fired and wounded himself, police said. Although injured, the usher, 22-year-old Robert Engle, then retrieved a gun from his vehicle, re-entered the sanctuary and held the suspect at bay until police arrived.

"This is an exceptionally brave individual," Aaron said of the usher during a briefing outside thechurch in Antioch, about 10 miles (16 km) southeast of downtown Nashville.

Police had not determined the motive behind the shooting, but the spokesman said certain items were found that might establish why the man opened fire.

Samson was treated at a local hospital and released. He will be charged with murder and attempted murder, police said in a Facebook post.

Melanie Smith, 39, of Smyrna, Tennessee, was fatally shot in the parking lot, where she was found lying next to the suspect's blue sport utility vehicle, which was idling when police arrived.

Police said it was not immediately known if the suspect had any previous connection with thechurch, where about 50 people were worshipping when the gunman entered.

All but one of the wounded were over 60 years old and were taken to nearby hospitals, Joseph Pleasant, a Nashville Fire Department spokesman, told Reuters. He said at least some of the wounded were in critical condition.

The usher, who was "pistol-whipped," was also taken to a hospital, police said.

The church's pastor, Joey Spann, was shot in the chest and was being treated at a hospital, WKRN television news channel reported, citing the pastor's son. The Nashville Christian School, where Spann is a coach and Bible teacher, said Spann's wife was also injured.

Nashville Mayor Megan Barry said in a statement the shooting was "a terrible tragedy for our city."

(Reporting by Frank McGurty and Jonathan Allen in New York; Editing by Mary Milliken and Peter Cooney)

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