NASHVILLE, TN — Emanuel Samson, the man accused of the September 2017 Burnette Chapel Church of Christ shooting, pleaded not guilty to 43 charges Wednesday.
Samson, 26, did not appear in court for his arraignment on an indictment charging him with one count of murder, three counts of civil rights intimidation, seven counts of attempted first-degree murder, seven counts of employing a firearm during a dangerous felony, 24 counts of aggravated assault and count of reckless endangerment. His plea was entered by his attorney.
Samson had previously attended Burnette Chapel Church of Christ and on Sept. 24, 2017, police say he drove to the church with a carful of weapons and began firing, killing 39-year-old Melanie Crow of Smyrna in the parking lot and injuring seven others, including the church’s pastor Joey Spann, inside the building. He was eventually subdued by long-time parishioner and church usher Caleb Engle, 22, who rushed from the church during the attack to his car to retrieve his handgun.
Police have not publicly disclosed a motive, though detectives did say they found a note in Samson’s car referencing a white supremacist’s 2015 massacre at a South Carolina black church. The note found on the dashboard read something like, "Dylann Roof was less than nothing," MNPD Det. Jolley testified at an October 2017 hearing. Jolley said Samson admitted to the shooting in its aftermath, said he had visions of the church, but was otherwise vague.
A federal civil rights investigation into whether the attack was racially or religiously motivated is also pending, but for now, Samson will go through the state court process.
Photo via Metro Nashville Police