Tennessee church shooter Emanuel Samson pleads not guilty

Emanuel Samson, 26, pleaded not guilty to all 43 charges related to the September 2017 shooting at Burnette Chapel Church of Christ in Antioch, Tenn., which killed one person and injured seven more. Photo courtesy of Metro Nashville Police Department

March 28 (UPI) — The suspect in a shooting at a church in Antioch, Tenn., pleaded not guilty to all charges through his attorney on Wednesday.

Emanuel Samson, 26, waived his right to appear in court for his arraignment and his private attorney Jennifer Thompson told Judge Cheryl Blackburn he pleaded guilty to all 43 charges in relation to the Sept. 24, 2017, shooting including murder, civil rights intimidation and 24 counts of aggravated assault.

"On behalf of Emanuel Samson I’ve received a copy of the court’s indictment," Thompson said.

Samson is accused of killing 38-year-old Melanie Crow in the parking lot of Burnette Chapel Church of Christ and injuring seven other people in the shooting.

Police said Samson went into the church with two pistols and fired multiple rounds inside the building.

Crow was killed in the parking lot while walking to her car and was shot in the back multiple times while attempting to flee the gunman.

Samson had previously attended Burnette Chapel, but authorities haven’t discussed an explicit motive for the shooting.

The U.S. Department of Justice opened a civil rights investigation to determine if the shooting was racially or religiously motivated.

Revenge was considered as a motive after police found a note in Samson’s car mentioning the shooting by white supremacist Dylann Roof on June 18, 2015, which killed nine people at the Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

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