NASHVILLE, Tennessee (WKRN) — The heroic actions of a Nashville pastor and several of his parishioners likely saved a church from violence Sunday afternoon.
Subway police said Dezire Baganda, 26, was sitting outside the Nashville Light Mission Pentecostal Church when he pulled out a gun and walked to the altar where Pastor Ezekiel Ndikumana was praying with several church members.
Baganda told everyone to stand as he waved and pointed the handgun at the congregation, Metro Police said. The pastor quickly attacked Baganda before he could fire a single shot. Several church members intervened to help snatch the weapon from Baganda and hold it until police arrived, investigators said.
“He wanted to kill, that’s what came to mind,” Ndikumana told WKRN as choir member Nzojibugami Noe translated for him. Noe was also in the front row during the incident.
“He stood in front of almost everyone. No one was behind him yet, so he could have done anything,” Noe recalled.
In a video shared by church members, Ndikumana can be seen pretending to walk out of the church, then walking behind Baganda and tackling him to the ground.
“I would say God used me because I felt like I was going to use the back door as an example trying to get behind him. And then I had a feeling that I was going to catch him… and that’s what happened,” Ndikumana said.
Baganda was not a member of the church, but the pastor said he attended services there. Church members say he was asked not to attend services last February after he interrupted pastors during their sermons. However, participants said he had never been violent. He showed up for the 10 a.m. service on Sunday and remained calm until the explosion around 12:45 p.m.
The congregation credited Ndikumana for saving their lives, but he credited a higher power.
“God wanted to show that he is a powerful God,” Ndikumana explained. “One main thing I said, we had faith.”
Baganda was charged with 15 counts of aggravated assault. Other charges should be added, according to the police.
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