"Without him, I think it could be worse. He was the hero today."
Thanks to the brave actions of a 22-year-old usher, a shooting that took place at a church in Nashville over the weekend wasn’t nearly as bad as it could have been.
La Vergne, Tennessee native Robert Engle—who goes by his middle name Caleb—is being called a hero after he confronted a masked gunman who allegedly opened fire at Burnette Chapel Church of Christ in Antioch on Sunday. Engle reportedly engaged in a struggle with the suspected shooter, Emanual Samson, 25, after he killed one woman and wounded six others as the service ended.
While Samson fired indiscriminately at the 42 churchgoers inside, police say Engle confronted the gunman in an effort to keep him from shooting more people. The young usher was pistol-whipped in the struggle, and the suspect accidentally shot himself in the chest, at which point Engle was able to run out to his car to retrieve his own pistol. Engle held Samson at gunpoint until police arrived.
Engle, who has been attending the church since he was a child, has balked at the idea of being labeled a hero. "The real heroes are the police, first responders and medical staff and doctors who have helped me and everyone affected,” he said in a statement.
"I ask everyone to pray for the victims, family members of the victims, our church community. Please pray for healing,” Engle added. “Also, please pray for the shooter, the shooter’s family and friends. They are hurting as well.”
One witness, Minerva Rosa, told reporters that the situation could have been worse if Engle had not intervened. "He's amazing," Rosa said on Sunday. "Without him, I think it could be worse. He was the hero today."
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