Tennessee Church Shooter Motivated by Revenge for Dylann Roof's Massacre at Black Church

Dylann Roof (L) 23, Emanuel Kidega Samson (R), 25.
Dylann Roof (L) 23, Emanuel Kidega Samson (R), 25. | (Photo: Reuters;Facebook)

Emanuel Kidega Samson, 25, the ex-member of Burnette Chapel Church of Christ in Antioch, Tennessee, who shot eight people including one fatally at his old church, was motivated by revenge for the nine churchgoers who were killed by Dylann Roof in 2015.

Roof, a 23-year-old white supremacist, was convicted in 2016 of killing nine black worshipers at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, as they prayed at a Bible Study.

Police say Samson, an amateur bodybuilder who worked as a security guard, arrived at Burnette Chapel Church of Christ at 10:55 a.m. Sunday in a blue SUV wearing a neoprene half face mask, according to News Channel 5.

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Armed with a handgun, he then "fired upon the church building" with his vehicle still running in the parking lot where he shot church member Melanie Crow Smith, 39, and left her for dead. He then went on to shoot several other people inside the church building.

The Associated Press said law enforcement officials had retrieved a note from Samson's car that references revenge for Roof's attack. A law enforcement report said that "in sum and in no way verbatim," the note made reference to retaliation for the actions of Dylann S. Roof.

Roof had already received nine life sentences for his crime. He is currently on death row trying to appeal his sentence. About a week before Samson's attack, The Washington Post said a federal judge recently dismissed Roof's bid to fire his Jewish and Indian lawyers.

Roof, according to that report, had told investigators that he was trying to start a race war when he decided to gun down six women and three men at the church.

"Well yeah, I mean, I just went to that church in Charleston and, uh, I did it," Roof told agents who asked him to explain what happened.

He further tried to justify the murders by saying what he did was "so minuscule" compared to what black people are "doing to white people every day all the time."

"I had to do it because somebody had to do something," he told FBI agents. "Black people are killing white people every day on the street, and they are raping white women."

He remains unrepentant in jail for the church attack, declaring in a jailhouse journal entry presented by prosecutors: "I have not shed a tear for the innocent people I killed."

In discussing Samson's attack, political and law enforcement officials told The New York Times on Friday that they had been worried about possible retaliation for Roof's crimes. A former federal prosecutor said he was concerned about imitators but he never envisioned the imitator to be black.

"I was worried about a lot of things, and that event was so horrific that I really didn't know what effect it was going to have on the community," William N. Nettles, who was the United States attorney for the District of South Carolina when the attack happened, said. "But at the time, my hunch was that I needed to be worried about a white nationalist's copycat crime."

Nettles said he was less worried a black person would seek race-based revenge "because of the enormous grace that was shown by the congregation and the community as a whole" after the Charleston massacre.

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