Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Prosecutor: Tennessee Shooter Wanted To Kill 'A Minimum Of 10 White Churchgoers'

Citing a "mountain of evidence," prosecutors say the man suspected of opening fire on members of the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ in Antioch, Tennessee in 2017 was attempting to kill "a minimum of 10 white churchgoers." Among the evidence, the district attorney's office presented a note left by the suspect referencing "vengeance" and the name of the white supremacist behind the 2015 massacre at a black church in Charleston, South Carolina.
In court Monday, Deputy District Attorney Amy Hunter said the suspect, who is a legal U.S. resident from Sudan (and whose name has been redacted*), went to the church "with the intent to murder a minimum of 10 white churchgoers," the Tennessean reported Monday.
According to police, on September 25, 2017, the suspect fatally shot Melanie Crow in the parking lot of the church and then shot and wounded seven other churchgoers. In a 43-count indictment, the suspect has been charged with first-degree murder, aggravated assault, and civil rights intimidation.
The prosecution says the shooting was premeditated and racially motivated and is seeking life without parole. The defense does not dispute that the suspect opened fire on churchgoers and killed Crowe, but maintains that he was motivated by suicidal thoughts.
Among the evidence presented by the prosecution is a partially torn note police say the suspect left on the dashboard of his car before the rampage. "[The Charleston shooter] is less than nothing," reads the note, a photograph of which the Tennessean published. "The blood that 10 of your kind will shed ... in terms of vengeance," reads a section read aloud in court by Hunter.
 
Also included in the evidence is a T-shirt Hunter says the suspect was wearing under his black jacket featuring "gun targets shaped like people," the Tennessean reports. Police say he brought multiple guns and ammunition to the site. Hunter also underscored that the suspect had attended the church previously and knew members of the congregation.
The shooting rampage came to an end when church member Caleb Engle, whom Hunter praised as a "true-life hero," tackled the shooter when he paused to reload.
 
Defense attorney Jennifer Thompson argued that her client was motivated by suicidal thoughts rather than racism. "What this case is about is about a man who was very sad, very suicidal," she said, the Tennessean reports. "He wanted to die." Among the evidence she presented was the suspect shooting himself when he was subdued by Engle. A psychiatrist has previously diagnosed the suspect as suffering from "schizoaffective disorder bipolar type."
The Charleston shooter referenced in the note opened fire inside a predominantly African American church in 2015, murdering nine black churchgoers. A jury found the avowed white supremacist guilty of 33 counts and condemned him to death. As The New York Times reported, documents unsealed weeks after the ruling revealed that a court-appointed psychiatrist found that the shooter "suffers from Social Anxiety Disorder, a Mixed Substance Abuse Disorder, a Schizoid Personality Disorder, depression by history, and a possible Autistic Spectrum Disorder."
*Editor's Note: Recent studies suggest that “media coverage of mass shootings can have a significant impact on the psyches of potential mass shooters — that such potential mass shooters have a cognitive craving for attention, which they know they will receive for committing atrocities.” For this reason, The Daily Wire no longer publishes names and images of mass shooters as it has become increasingly clear in recent years that "the value of public knowledge regarding specific names and photographs of mass shooters is significantly outweighed by the possibility of encouraging more mass shootings.”

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