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A note sheds light on Tennessee church shooter's possibly vengeful motives

Crime
The shooter who killed one person and wounded several others at Burnette Chapel in Antioch, Tenn., on Sunday may have been motivated by revenge for the 2015 massacre at Emanuel AME in Charleston, S.C. (Joe Buglewicz/Getty Images)

Emanuel Kidega Samson approached Burnette Chapel Church of Christ armed with a gun and a tactical vest, with a mask over his face.

He met a woman in the parking lot, who was walking to her car. He killed her, then walked in the back of the church and opened fire, wounding six more people before being taken down by a church member and subdued.

Now, a note he left in his car indicates that he may have been seeking revenge for a church murder two years earlier.

The note

The exact contents of the note are not yet public, but people close to the investigation have told the Associated Press that Samson's note made reference to retaliation for the 2015 shooting at the historically black church Emanuel AME in Charleston, S.C., when white supremacist Dylann Roof killed nine people during a Bible study.

Since the Associated Press has not obtained or viewed the entire note, there are still questions about the context and other potential motivations for the shooting.

The shooter

  • Samson is a 25-year-old U.S. citizen who came from the Sudan as a child in 1996.
  • Police records show he has expressed suicidal thoughts in recent months and been involved in several incidents in his relationship that required police intervention.
  • Police found several guns in his possession: the .40-caliber handgun allegedly used in the shooting, an AR-15 rifle and a .22-caliber pistol in his vehicle, and a 9 mm handgun found in the church. Police say he purchased the .22-caliber, and the other three guns were given to him by a relative for safe keeping.

Samson is currently in custody on a state murder charge, and the FBI has opened a hate crime probe into the shooting.

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