Washington (AFP) – A masked gunman opened fire Sunday at a church near Nashville, Tennessee, killing a woman, wounding six more people and pistol-whipping another, police said.
The gunman, who is 26, shot himself after being confronted by an usher at the Church of Christ Burnette Chapel and has been hospitalized. But his life is not believed to be in danger, police spokesman Don Aaron told reporters.
In the latest chapter of America’s epidemic of gun violence, police said the shooter, an African-American wearing a sort of ski mask, arrived at the church in a blue SUV as parishioners were leaving Sunday services and immediately shot a woman in the parking lot. She died later of her wounds.
He then entered the rear of the church while about 50 people were still inside and fired multiple rounds, wounding six more people, Aaron said.
After that gunfire, the usher ran up to the shooter and confronted him, and was pistol-whipped in the head.
Bleeding, the usher went outside to his vehicle and retrieved a licensed gun and went back into the church, the spokesman said.
“According to him, it was then that the gunman shot himself,” Aaron said.
When police arrived at the church, the engine of the shooter’s car was still running.
“It would appear he was not expecting a brave individual like the church usher to initiate the struggle and confrontation,” Aaron said.
“This gentleman, this church usher (is) an extraordinarily brave individual.”
Aaron said he did not know of any relationship between the gunman and the people at the church. While the gunman has been identified, authorities have yet to provide any more details on his identity.
The Nashville Fire Department said most of those wounded in the shooting were over the age of 60.