NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The “heroic actions” of a Tennessee pastor who tackled a man waving and pointing a gun during a service “saved a church from further violence,” police said.
No shots were fired during the incident at Nashville Light Mission Pentecostal Church, Metro Nashville Police said in a statement.
The 26-year-old man pulled a gun as the pastor was praying with several people at the altar and told everyone to get up as he waved and pointed the gun at the congregation, police said. The pastor tackled the man and then several church members helped to disarm and hold him until officers arrived, the statement said.
He was charged with 15 counts of felony aggravated assault, police said.
Nashville Pastor Ezekiel Ndikumana tackled a man who was waving a gun during his service at Light Mission Pentecostal Church. Ndikumana, who is being hailed as a hero for his actions, believed he was facing death.
On “Fox & Friends First,” Ndikumana explained through a translator what went through his mind when he saw the man pull out a gun.
“I saw that we were already dead,” he said. “In my mind, I was thinking that there was nothing else to do, except there was only either leave or die.”
Ndikumana’s translator, Nzojibugami “Noah” Noe, attends Light Mission Pentecostal Church and witnessed the event.
Noe said he thanks God for Ndikumana’s bravery Sunday morning.
“That was — honestly was incredible because that was something that I was never expecting,” said Carley Shimkus. “I was shocked myself, and then seeing my pastor going behind him. It was just brave.”
Ndikumana credits God with giving him the ability to take down the armed man and protect his congregation.
“God gave me the strength to do that because if somebody’s already pointing a gun on you like that, probably there’s nothing else to do.”
The suspect, 26-year-old Dezire Baganda, was charged with 15 counts of felony aggravated assault and 42 new warrants have been issued against him following the incident.
Ndikumana tackled Baganda from behind and was able to hold him down until law enforcement officers arrived and took him into custody.
Noe said he had seen Baganda around prior but doesn’t know him personally.
“I’ve seen him a couple of times because we will go to play soccer sometimes,” Noe said.
“But we don’t know and we don’t understand why he would do such a thing.”