Masked gunman kills woman, wounds several others at Nashville church

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Police investigate a suspicious car in the parking lot of the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ on September 24, 2017 in Antioch, Tennessee. One person was killed and seven were wounded when a gunman opened fire in the church. (Joe Buglewicz/Getty Images/AFP)
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This undated photo provided by Metro Nashville Police Department shows Emanuel Kidega Samson. A gunman entered a church in Tennessee on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, and opened deadly fire an official said. Metropolitan Nashville police spokesman Don Aaron identified the Samson. (Metro Nashville Police Department via AP)
Updated 25 September 2017
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Masked gunman kills woman, wounds several others at Nashville church

TENNESSEE: A masked gunman killed a woman in the parking lot of a Tennessee church on Sunday morning and wounded six worshipers inside the building before shooting himself in a scuffle with an usher who rushed to stop the attack.
The shooter, identified as Emanuel Kidega Samson, 25, walked into Nashville’s Burnette Chapel Church of Christ wearing a ski mask and opened fire, Metropolitan Nashville Police spokesman Don Aaron told reporters.
As the church usher grappled with the suspect, he was struck in the head with the gunman’s weapon before the suspect fired and wounded himself in the chest, police said.
Although injured, the usher, 22-year-old Robert Engle, then retrieved a gun from his vehicle, re-entered the sanctuary and held the suspect at bay until police arrived.
“This is an exceptionally brave individual,” Aaron said of the usher during a briefing outside the church in Antioch, about 10 miles (16 km) southeast of downtown Nashville.
About 50 people were worshipping at the church when the gunman entered. Samson was armed with two pistols and had another handgun and a rifle in his sport utility vehicle, according to a police statement.
Police had not determined the motive behind the shooting, but the spokesman said evidence was found that might establish why the man opened fire.
Church members told investigators Samson attended the church in the past, but not recently, Nashville police said in a statement.
Samson was charged with murder, and authorities planned to bring other charges against him, police said.
A churchgoer, Melanie Smith, 39, of Smyrna, Tennessee, was fatally shot in the parking lot, where she was found lying next to the suspect’s blue SUV.
All but one of the six people wounded by gunfire were 60 or older and were taken to nearby hospitals, said Nashville Fire Department spokesman Joseph Pleasant. At least some of the wounded were in critical condition, he said.
The church’s pastor, Joey Spann, was shot in the chest and was being treated at a hospital, WKRN television news channel reported, citing the pastor’s son. The Nashville Christian School, where Spann is a coach and Bible teacher, said Spann’s wife also was injured.
Samson was treated at a hospital and transferred to a jail. In a photo released by police, he was shown walking in blue hospital garb, as police officers led him along a walkway.


Protests in Bangladesh after girl is burned to death

Updated 9 min 16 sec ago
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Protests in Bangladesh after girl is burned to death

  • Nusrat Jahan Rafi told her family she was lured to the roof of her rural school in the town of Feni on April 6 and asked to withdraw the charges by five people clad in burqas
  • The violence has shaken Bangladesh, triggering protests and raising concerns over the plight of women and girls in the conservative nation of 160 million people

DHAKA, Bangladesh: Dozens of protesters gathered in Bangladesh’s capital on Friday to demand justice for an 18-year-old woman who died after being set on fire for refusing to drop sexual harassment charges against her Islamic school’s principal.
Nusrat Jahan Rafi told her family she was lured to the roof of her rural school in the town of Feni on April 6 and asked to withdraw the charges by five people clad in burqas. When she refused, she said her hands were tied and she was doused in kerosene and set alight.
Rafi told the story to her brother in an ambulance on the way to the hospital and he recorded her testimony on his mobile phone. She died four days later in a Dhaka hospital with burns covering 80% of her body.
The violence has shaken Bangladesh, triggering protests and raising concerns over the plight of women and girls in the conservative Muslim-majority nation of 160 million people where sexual harassment and violence are often unreported, victims are intimidated and the legal process is often lengthy. Many avoid reporting to police because of social stigma.
“We want justice. Our girls must grow up safely and with dignity,” Alisha Pradhan, a model and actress, told The Associated Press during Friday’s demonstration. “We protest any forms of violence against women, and authorities must ensure justice.”
Tens of thousands of people attended Rafi’s funeral prayers in Feni, and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina promised Rafi’s family when they met in Dhaka that those responsible would be punished.
At least 17 people, including students, have been arrested in connection with the case, said Banaj Kumar Majumder, the head of the Police Bureau of Investigation.
In late March, Rafi filed a complaint with police that the principal of her madrasa, or Islamic school, had called her into his office and touched her inappropriately and repeatedly. Her family agreed to help her to file the police complaint, which prompted police to arrest the principal, infuriating him and his supporters. Influential local politicians backed the principal, and ruling party members were also among the arrested.
Police said the arrested suspects told them during interrogations that the attack on Rafi was planned and ordered by the school’s principal from prison when his men went to see him. It was timed for daytime so that it would look like a suicide attempt, Majumder said.
Human Rights Watch said in a statement that Rafi’s family said that they had received death threats before the attack telling them to drop the case.
While Rafi’s case is now being treated with urgency, that wasn’t the case until her death.
A video taken on March 27 while Rafi reported the assault shows the local police chief registering her complaint but telling her that the incident was “not a big deal.” The chief was later removed from the police station for negligence in dealing with the case.
For Bangladeshi women, it is often not easy to file sensitive complaints with police. Victims often fear further harassment and bullying. Police also often show an unwillingness to investigate such cases and are often accused of being influenced by local politics or bribes.
But the call for dealing with violence against women, especially related to sexual harassment and assault, is also getting louder.
“The horrifying murder of a brave woman who sought justice shows how badly the Bangladesh government has failed victims of sexual assault,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Nusrat Jahan Rafi’s death highlights the need for the Bangladesh government to take survivors of sexual assault seriously and ensure that they can safely seek a legal remedy and be protected from retaliation.”