I’ve noticed a decided lack of coverage in the case of Emanuel Kidega Samson, the Tennessee church shooter who murdered one woman and injured a half dozen more last weekend. What I’m trying to place my finger on is why, and there’s not as obvious of an answer as you might suppose.
The shooter was scheduled to appear in court this morning for the first time. The Sudanese immigrant is being held without bail for the time being. (Associated Press)
A man charged in a mass shooting that killed one person and wounded six others at a Tennessee church is slated for a court appearance.
Emanuel Kidega Samson is due in front of a Davidson County general sessions judge Wednesday morning.
He’s charged with the fatal shooting of one woman and is expected to face several more charges after the rampage at the Burnett Chapel Church of Christ in Nashville.
He was ordered held without bond by a judicial commissioner.
If you think about Dylann Roof’s attack, the media reaction in this case has been far different thus far. When you shoot a bunch of people that’s a horrific crime to begin with, but when you shoot up a church that adds an entirely new dimension of horror and outrage. Perhaps it’s because the police have yet to even suggest a motive.
And that’s why this is such a mystery thus far. Normally one might be tempted to say that a black man perpetrating a shooting isn’t as interesting to the media as a white perpetrator, and that’s certainly true as a rule of thumb. (When’s the last time you heard anyone in the press mention Bunny Friend Park?) But there are so many question marks hanging over this attack that it doesn’t look that simple. (Just for the record I’m not saying “alleged” shooter in this case because the police affidavit released on Monday indicates that Samson waived his rights and told the cops he had done it.)
We should give some credit to USA Today for at least trying to dig up the details and find the real story of this attack. What they find is a tapestry of contrasts. For example, Samson came to the United States from Sudan and that’s a country with a history of terrorism issues. (In the early nineties they were designated as a state sponsor of terror.) But Samson came here at the age of four and has a long history of professing his Christian faith. At one point he reportedly told friends that he wanted to become a preacher.
Could this be a case of mental illness? USA Today revealed that he was involved in a couple of reports of domestic violence with his girlfriend, though no charges were filed. He also threatened suicide once while texting with his father. He’s been having some employment issues lately in his job as an unarmed security guard. Perhaps that adds pressure to an already volatile situation with an unstable mind?
There’s no manifesto that we know of, no history of disturbing social media activity or ties to terrorism or even domestic extremists. Perhaps we’ll learn more after the initial hearings, but at this point we don’t know much more about why Emanuel Kidega Samson went into that church and opened fire than we did on Sunday.