A woman was killed and at least eight people suffered gunshot wounds when a man opened fire at a Tennessee church on Sunday morning before shooting himself as one of the worshipers confronted him with a firearm, officials said.
The shooter, described as a man in his 20s, walked into Nashville‘s Burnette Chapel Church of Christ wearing a ski mask and opened fire, spokesman Don Aaron of the Metropolitan Nashville Police told reporters.
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A church usher confronted the gunman but was quickly struck in the head with the gun. Although injured, the usher went to the parking lot, took a gun out of his vehicle and re-entered the sanctuary. The suspect then shot and wounded himself.
“This is an exceptionally brave individual,” Aaron said during a briefing outside the church in Antioch, about 10 miles (16 km) southeast of downtown Nashville.
Police had not determined the motive behind the shooting, but the spokesman said certain items were found that might establish why the man opened fire.
One woman was fatally shot in the parking lot, where she was found lying next to the suspect’s blue SUV, which was still running when police arrived.
Police said it was not immediately known if he had any previous connection with the church. Neither his identity nor the identities of any of the victims had been released.
All but one of the wounded were over 60 years old and were taken to nearby hospitals, Joseph Pleasant, a Nashville Fire Department spokesman, told Reuters. He said at least some of the wounded were in critical condition. About 50 people were in the church at the time. All the victims were adults.
The church‘s pastor, Joey Spann, was shot in the chest and was being treated at a hospital, WKRN television news channel reported, citing the pastor’s son. The Nashville Christian School, where Spann is a coach and Bible teacher, said Spann’s wife was also injured.
Nashville Mayor Megan Barry said in a statement the shooting was “a terrible tragedy for our city.”