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State: Suspect focused on the killing of at least 10 white churchgoers

FILE – In this Feb. 20, 2019, file photo, Emanuel Kidega Samson, center, enters the courtroom for a hearing in Nashville, Tennessee. The prosecutors have said that they are looking for a life without parole for the 27-year-old Samson, accused of fatally shooting a woman and wounding several people at a Nashville church. His trial is scheduled to begin Monday 20 May. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File)

NASHVILLE, Tennessee. – A prosecutor said Monday that a black man charged with the fatal shooting of a woman and injured seven people at a Nashville church that is focused on the killing of at least 10 white people and cited 2015 as a massacre in a black church in South Carolina.

Nashville Deputy district Attorney Amy Hunter made the remarks during the opening statements in the trial of Emanuel Kidega Samson, 27. The prosecutors have said that they are looking for a life without parole for Samson, who is faced with a 43-count indictment, including a first-degree murder charges in the September 2017 shooting at Burnette Chapel Church of Christ.

Samson’s lawyer, Jennifer Lynn Thompson, countered that Samson is the true intention was to kill himself. He left a suicide note for his girlfriend and sent a goodbye video to his nephew, Thompson said.

The members of the church, wrapped in the courtroom, sometimes emotionally as lawyers and witnesses told a Sunday filled with chaos, tragedy and heroism. The shooting killed 38-year-old Melanie L. Crow of Smyrna, Tennessee. She was shot in the church, the parking lot, and asked for her Bible and notes of the worship ceremony, which had just closed, Hunter said.

Samson is black and the victims are white. Hunter explained that a note in Samson’s car cited white supremacist Dylann Roof massacre on a black church in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015. Also referred to as the red, black and green Pan-African flag, also known as the RBG.

“Dylann Roof is less than nothing,” the note read, Hunter said. “The blood that 10 of your kind of strainer is that the color on the RBG flag in terms of revenge. What (expletive).” The note ended with a smiley face, Hunter said.

“This state will prove beyond reasonable doubt that on Sept. 24, 2017, this defendant, Emanuel Kidega Samson, went to the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ with the intent to murder on a minimum of 10 white churchgoers that day,” Hunter said. “You don’t have to take the state’s word for it all.”

An arrest affidavit says Samson waived his rights and told the police he arrived armed and fired at the church, who by the officer of justice as a multicultural, multigenerational community where everyone knows everyone.

Hunter also said that the disaster turned out to be a real life hero.”

Churchgoer Robert Caleb Engle testified that during the rampage, he twice confronted with the gunman, who is wearing a tactical vest and a motorcycle-style mask with a clown that has a smile on. Engle said he was pistol-whipped three times in the head. At one point, he pushed the gun back at the shooter, and a shot is fired, hitting the gunman and sending him to the ground.

Engle said his father kicked the gun away, stood on the shooter’s hand and told Engle to get his gun from his truck.

Engle came back with his weapon, put his foot on the shooter’s back and stood on guard until the emergency services arrived.

A court order had kept much of the details of the case secret until trial.

During a hearing in April it was already clear that a psychiatrist the diagnosis of Samson with “schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type” and post-traumatic stress disorder after an abusive, violent upbringing.

“What this case is about a man who was very sad, very suicidal, and he was looking to die that day,” Thompson said.

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