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Robert Caleb Engle is not your average worship-service volunteer. Media and fellow congregants alike are praising the 22-year-old for his courageous actions that likely saved the lives of dozens at Burnette Chapel Church of Christ Sunday morning.
"I do not want to be labeled a hero. The real heroes are the police, first responders, medical staff and doctors who have helped me and everyone affected," Engle says. "I've been going to this church my whole life. I would have never, ever thought something like this would have happened."
Emanuel Kidega Samson opened fire in the Nashville-area church Sunday morning, killing one and injuring more. Engle, an usher at the church, reportedly confronted the shooter before Samson pistol-whipped Engle. Samson injured himself in the scuffle.
Engle then went outside to collect his own firearm and stood guard over Samson until police arrived on the scene.
"Mr. Engle saved countless lives here today," says Don Aaron, a spokesman for the Metro Nashville Police Department. "He is, at the end of the day, the hero in this because we think this could've been much worse in terms of death."
The church will host a prayer vigil Monday night at 7 p.m.
"We are beyond grateful for the enormous outpouring of love and compassion we have received from so many after the tragic event that took place yesterday. We ask for your continued prayers and support during the coming days and months, especially for the family of our sweet and dear sister Melanie L. Crow, who lost her life. God's blessings to you all," according to a church Facebook post.
Multiple people commented on the post to offer their prayers.
"My heart is so heavy this morning. As I laid in my closet to pray for healing and peace I still can't understand why bad things happen to good people. My children and I will be there tonight to stand in solidarity that we shall not be broken. I pray peace in the midst of storm," writes one commenter.
Another says: "My heart breaks as I hold back my tears to the article I read about your church. ... Please Lord, our Father in HEAVEN, direct your guardian angels to protect and guide your children at Burnette Church, have your angels return and maintain these beautiful children of yours, in your divine light of your loving embrace......through Jesus Christ I PRAY....Amen...."
Jessilyn Justice is the director of online news for Charisma. Born and raised in a pastor's family in Alabama, she attended Lee University and the Washington Journalism Center. She's passionate about sharing God's goodness through storytelling. Tell her what you think of this story on Twitter @jessilynjustice.
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