A Christian pastor in Tennessee tackled a man with a handgun during a church service on Sunday, likely saving many in the congregation. The man with the gun reportedly said that churches and schools should be “shot up” as police took him away.
During the incident, Pastor Ezekiel Ndikumana, of Nashville Light Pentecostal Church in North Nashville, was praying alongside others at the altar when the 26-year-old walked to the front of the church and pulled out a gun.
Ndikumana was able to walk behind the gunman then rush and tackle him. Other church members then helped to hold the man down.
“The heroic actions of a local pastor and several of his parishioners saved a church from further violence this afternoon,” Metropolitan Nashville police said in a statement. “The pastor quickly tackled [the gunman] before any shots were fired. Several church members jumped in to assist in disarming [the gunman] and holding him to the ground until officers arrived on scene.”
The gunman, though not a member of the church, had reportedly attended services there before. He now faces 15 counts of felony aggravated assault with possibly more charges coming. Bond is set at $375,000, and he is scheduled to appear in court on Wednesday.
After walking to the front of the church, the gunman pulled out his handgun and began waving it around. Then, according to one witness, he asked, “Do you think I’m playing with you?”
Alongside declaring that churches and schools should be “shot up,” the gunman also claimed to be Jesus. No one was injured during the incident, and no shots were fired.
“He wanted to kill, that’s what first came to mind,” Ndikumana told News 2 via a translator.
“He was standing in the front of almost everybody,” he continued. “No one was behind him yet, so he could have done anything.”
According to the Tennessean, which reviewed an affidavit detailing the circumstances of the incident, “..the suspect pulled a handgun from his waistband and began waving it at the entire congregation ‘causing turmoil.'”
Nzojibugami Noe, a congregant, said he was praying for the church to have courage during the service.
“Forty minutes after my prayer that happened and God used the pastor to tackle him — a man who could have killed many people,” he said. “We are blessed.”
Ndikumana, an immigrant from Burundi, has been at Nashville Light Mission Pentecostal Church for nine years. According to one congregant, about 68 people were worshiping at the church on Sunday.
“I would say that God used me because I felt like I was going to use the back door as an example as going on by trying to go behind him. And then I felt the feeling that I would go and grab him… and that’s what happened,” the pastor said.
Ndikumana gave credit to God for protecting the congregation.
“God wanted to show that he’s a powerful God,” he added. “One main thing I said, we had faith.”
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