Usher stops shooting attack in church

From the Possenti Society.

“The St. Gabriel Possenti Society commends Robert Engle of the Burdette Chapel Church of Christ in Antioch, Tennessee for stopping with his handgun a mass murder of congregants during services on Sunday, September 24,” Society chairman John M. Snyder said here today.

“Sunday’s handgun rescue action by Robert ‘Caleb’ Engle, called a ‘hero’ by Nashville police chief Steve Anderson, reflects the 1860 handgun rescue action by St. Gabriel Possenti in Isola del Gran Sasso, Italy,” noted Snyder.


[…]During that event, Emanuel Kidega Samson, 25, wearing a ski mask, allegedly rampaged through the church, carrying two handguns.  He allegedly shot seven people, including the pastor, Joey Spann, and one woman, Melanie Smith, who died.  Samson attacked Engle by “pistol-whipping” him and causing him “significant injuries,” including “injury to the head.”  Samson accidentally may have shot himself.

Engle, an usher at the church who has a valid permit to carry a concealed firearm, went to his car and retrieved his handgun. [Pretty far away!]  He trained it on Samson and forced him to desist from his murder spree until police arrived.

Samson has been charged with murder and attempted murder.

Dan Aaron, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department, said of Samson, “It would appear he was not expecting to encounter a brave individual like the church usher.

Chief Anderson praised Engle for intervening, according to The Washington Post, saying, “We believe he is the hero today.”

“Engle truly is a hero,” said Snyder.  “His action underscores scholarly estimates that there are two to four million defensive gun uses in the United States each year.


Coverage also at CNN, CBS, JS, etc.

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Ellen says:

    One of my brothers used to live in Antioch, TN. The Catholic church there is St. Ignatius. Kudos to Mr. Engle for his quick action that prevented more loss of life.

  2. LarryW2LJ says:

    This shows the increased need for “Sargent(s) at Arms” at all Masses. Not necessarily someone carrying a concealed weapon as that’s nor permitted in many states. But someone big enough and trained enough to know what to do in an emergency situation.

    As an aside, I was told by a friend who’s a lawyer, if you’re going to carry a Louisville Slugger in your car as a defensive weapon, please make sure to have an accompanying fielder’s glove in there as well. Looks better in court.

  3. graytown says:

    How do you stop a bad guy with a gun ?

    A good guy with a gun.

    Folks – if you have concealed carry permit – CARRY !!

    [And if you are going to carry… TRAIN TRAIN TRAIN! And also think about getting emergency medical training as well. FATHERS!!! Every parish should have a well-stocked emergency med kit and defib handy. You need to be able to stop bleeding, if possible. There should be lots of tourniquets and blood clotting agents and dressing, etc. LOTS! If you don’t have this stuff now, correct the situation. Just to start…]


    Z-Pack Dressings…


  4. Kent Wendler says:

    The accounts I have read indicated that Samson wounded himself while struggling with Engle who was unarmed at that time. It was after Samson was down that Engle retrieved his gun from his car in the parking lot in order to guard Samson.

  5. OK_doc says:

    The best method of controlling bleeding is DIRECT PRESSURE. In a setting where Emergency Medical Services are readily available, bystanders should apply pressure to a bleeding site and not worry about tourniquets or clotting agents. On extremities, almost all bleeding can be controlled with pressure at the site of bleeding, even a vessel as large as the femoral artery. Tourniquets and/or blood clotting are not necessary and can cause more injury than local pressure alone, especially if someone is wasting time trying to find the equipment, figure out how to use it, etc instead of just putting pressure on the bleeding.
    On bleeding to “center mass”, blood clotting agents have some significant risk in that they are exothermic. Placed on bowel or other internal organs they will cause thermal damage to the organ that will likely be irreversible. Again, direct pressure (while it may be harder to do than on extremities) is still the best choice for bystanders.

    The comment about getting an AED and placing it in a prominent visible location is spot-on. The most likely life-threatening medical emergency that will occur in a parish or any other public place will be a heart attack, life-threatening cardiac dysrhythmia or stroke. AEDs will save lives if they are available. Most AEDs can be used by children old enough to read and follow directions.

    Everyone should familiarize themselves with the signs of stroke. F-A-S-T. Face drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, Time to call 9-1-1.

    Final word on call 911. Don’t let anyone tell you “I don’t need to go to the hospital” if your first thought is “WOW, they need to go to the hospital”.

  6. Adeodata says:

    As commented before, I will say it again. I recommend ushers, greeters, and whoever else is interested in a parish find and attend a church security training class. Unfortunately, incidents are on the rise. It is best to be prepared before someone with an agenda comes calling. You need to know what to look for, how to respond, and prevail. It does not matter if your church is large or small, urban or rural. While churches want to be welcoming and helpful, it is Biblically sound to protect the flock.

  7. hwriggles4 says:

    I have a brother Knight who is a retired Highway Patrol officer. He even told the priests at our parish that he is ready to provide protection at Church.

    We had a vandalism incident at our parish this summer that happened a few hours after Saturday evening Mass. It was anti Catholic, since the sacristy and the altar had some damage. The suspect was caught a few days later.

  8. Semper Gumby says:

    To expand on Fr. Z’s remarks in red and OK_doc:

    Blood clotting agents in granule form were replaced by blood clotting agents in gauze form in Marine Corps first aid kits about 2011 due to issues with the granules. See: QuikClot gauze pads.

    Direct pressure, as OK_doc points out, is the preferred method, but tourniquets have their occasional use, such as amputation with bright red spurting blood. Two recommended tourniquets are the CAT (similar to the one Fr. Z links to, it has a windlass and can be self-applied with one hand), and the TK4. The TK4 is not as easy to self-apply, but is cheaper, smaller in size, and more easily works on smaller limbs (children). Perhaps several of each type is the way to go.

    For compression and gauze, in addition to Z Packs there is the Israeli Battle Dressing, abdominal pads, and “H” compression bandages.

    A handy item is WaterJel burn dressings 4″ x 4″. This item is also in Marine Corps first aid kits.

    Medical help may not always be immediately available (e.g. a Catholic group’s camping weekend). Or, an attack may be a bombing (e.g. recent attempts against Notre Dame or Sagrada Familia) or multiple targets (Paris 2015) or a combination of both which could delay first responders.

    There are YouTube videos demonstrating these items (such as the CAT and the TK4). Also, when purchasing, buy one or two extra (whether tourniquets, gauze, etc.) and use them for training. Set training supplies in a separate clear plastic container and write “Training” on it with a Sharpie.

    To wrap this up on a lighter note, a year or two ago I was on the WaterJel website and noticed that it said: “The Marine Corps is our top customer.” Well now, I don’t know if that is because Marines are clumsy and tend to get burned, or because that Marines recognize a good first aid product. I like to think it’s the latter.

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