Tennessee pastor tackles gun-wielding man during church service

Being led away after Pastor Ezekiel Ndikumana tackled him, Dezire Baganda said all churches and schools need to be shot up.

A 26-year-old man has been charged with 15 counts of felony aggravated assault after pulling out a gun during church services at a north Nashville church. 

The pastor of Nashville Light Mission Pentecostal Church and several parishioners tackled Dezire Baganda, who was sitting in the front row of the church on Sunday afternoon. 

Through an interpreter, Pastor Ezekiel Ndikumana of Nashville Light Mission Pentecostal Church explains to local news how he managed to tackle a parishioner who pulled out a gun Sunday. (Photo: Screenshot/WKRN)

According to a press release from the Nashville Police Department, Baganda approached the altar where Pastor Ezekiel Ndikumana and several members of the congregation were praying. 

“Baganda told everyone to get up while he waved and pointed the handgun at the congregation,” NPD officials wrote. The pastor quickly tackled Baganda before any shots were fired. Several church members jumped in to assist in disarming Baganda and holding him to the ground until officers arrived on scene.” 

Video from the Nashville Light Mission Pentecostal security cameras captured the entire encounter.

According to the police report, Baganda was not a member of the church but had visited in the past. 

Police noted that Baganda could be hit with additional charges. 

In a local interview with WKRN, the Burundi-born Ndikumana said Baganda “wanted to kill.” 

Dezire Baganda, who was tackled by a pastor then apprehended by church parishioners at Nashville Light Mission Pentecostal on Sunday. (Photo: Nashville Police Department)

“He was standing in the front of almost everybody. No one was behind him yet, so he could have done anything,” said choir member Nzojibugami Noe, who translated for the pastor. 

“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,” Ndikumana told WKRN.

According to the arrest report, Baganda had visited the church in the past and had been asked not to return after interrupting sermons. While being led away, he reportedly said that all churches and schools need to be shot up. 

“God wanted to show that he’s a powerful God,” Ndikumana explained. “One main thing I said, we had faith.”

Sunday afternoon’s incident is reminiscent of the massacre at Mother Emanuel AME Church on June 17, 2015, when Dylann Roof shot and killed nine people during a Wednesday night bible study. The families of the Emanuel Nine, as well as the five survivors at the time of the shooting, sued the federal government because the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Checks System failed to discover that Roof was prohibited by federal law from possessing a firearm. 

The 14 plaintiffs in the lawsuit recently received an $88 million settlement from the federal government. 

“The mass shooting at Mother Emanuel AME Church was a horrific hate crime that caused immeasurable suffering for the families of the victims and the survivors,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland in a statement from the Department of Justice. “Since the day of the shooting, the Justice Department has sought to bring justice to the community, first by a successful hate crime prosecution and today by settling civil claims.”

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