Tennessee church usher who stopped gunman is hailed as 'hero'

A young church usher who confronted the suspect accused of opening fire at a church in Antioch, Tenn., on Sunday, is a “hero,” according to police — and his family says that's no surprise at all.

Robert Engle, 22, an usher with the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ, saw the suspected gunman, identified as 25-year-old Emanuel Kidega Samson, and jumped to stop him, according to witnesses.

Engle “physically engaged” with Samson, investigators added. Ultimately the suspect was shot, and Engle suffered a “significant injury around his head” after being pistol-whipped.

Engle then ran to his car, grabbed a gun, and held the gunman at gunpoint until law enforcement arrived, witnesses said.

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Later in the day, he released a statement rejecting the “hero” label, adding: “The real heroes are the police, first responders and medical staff and doctors who have helped me and everyone affected.”

Metropolitan Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson said of Engle: “He’s the person who stopped this madness.”

Engle’s grandmother, Rheta, told the Tennessean that she’s proud of her grandson Robert.

“That’s like him. He’s just someone who cares about a lot of people. He has all their feelings at heart,” Rheta Engle said. “It would make any parent, grandparent very, very proud of him.”

A friend of Robert’s added that his friend is a “great guy. Just one of the kindest human beings you’ll ever meet.”

Metropolitan Nashville Police said Engle was being treated at Skyline Medical Center after Sunday’s shooting.