Antioch Church Holds Worship Service 1 Week After Mass Shooting

Posted at 4:57 PM, Oct 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-01 23:49:18-04

The Burnette Chapel Church of Christ held a worship service one week after a mass shooting tore their congregation apart.

People from around the country sat in the pews to show their support. 

Minister Joey Spann was released from the hospital on Wednesday. He attended the service and spoke briefly. 

"Being a Christian, it doesn't stop the nightmares," Spann said.

Last Sunday, a masked gunman, identified by police as Emanuel Samson, shot and killed Melanie Crow Smith in the parking lot.

Then, police said he entered the church and opened fire. Seven people were injured.



"I just find it hard to hate him," Spann said. "I hate the climate that has caused him to do what he did." 

Spann's wife Peggy remained hospitalized on Sunday at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. She underwent surgery while her husband preached to his congregation.

"We all need to feel love. And love. And that's what was here today," Spann said.

After the worship service, the media heard from Robert Caleb Engle for the first time. 

"We can definitely say God was with us last week," Engle said.

Engle was the usher who police called a hero.

He reportedly tackled Samson to the ground, injuring the suspect and himself. He was pistol whipped, then ran to his car to grab his gun.

Police said he held Samson at gunpoint with his foot on the suspect's head until police arrived.

"Good always wins," Engle said.

The community hailed him a hero; however, Engle doesn't think of himself that way. 

"Everyone in this church is a hero. God was most definitely the hero," Engle said.

As their church has started to heal, he has believed it starts with forgiving and praying for the gunman.

"There are repercussions for what he did. He needs to pay for them, but our hope and prayer, just like Caleb said, is for Emanuel to come back to Christ," Spann said.

Several other victims were still listed in stable condition or have been released from the hospital. 

According to police, Samson went to their church several years ago. Spann said he worked with kids during Vacation Bible School.

According to the Associated Press, Samson left a note referencing revenge for a church shooting in Charleston where a white suspect shot and killed nine black church members in 2015.

The U.S. Justice Department's Civil Rights Division has opened an investigation to determine whether the shooting was racially motivated.