It goes without saying that gun violence in America has been a major problem. But the heroic actions of a Nashville pastor and several of his parishioners last Sunday helped prevent a church from becoming Mother Emanuel AME’s next shootout.
Pastor Ezekiel Ndikumana noticed 26-year-old Dezire Baganda sitting outside the Nashville Light Mission Pentecostal Church when he pulled out a gun and walked to the altar where the pastor was praying with several members of the church.
Baganda told everyone to stand up as he waved and pointed the handgun at the congregation, according to Metro Police.
Pastor Ndikumana quickly tackled the shooter before he could fire a single shot. Immediately, several church members came down to help move the gun away from Baganda and held him down until the police arrived.
“He wanted to kill, that’s what came to mind,” Ndikumana said. News 2 as a choir member Nzojibugami Noe translated for him. Noe was also in the front row during the incident.
“He stood in front of almost everyone. Nobody was behind him yet, so he could have done anything,” Noe recalled.
News 2’s Nikki McGee shared a video of the incident, where Pastor Ndikumana can be seen walking behind Baganda pretending to walk out of the church before sneaking up behind him and forcing 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, according to the pastor, he had attended services before. He was reportedly asked not to attend services last February after interrupting pastors during their sermons. However, church members said he was never violent. On the day of the incident, Baganda showed up for the Sunday sermon at 10 a.m., remaining calm until the blast happened around 12:45 p.m.
Pastor Ndikumana was credited by the congregation with saving their lives, and according to an affidavit of arrest, Baganda said he was “Jesus” and that all churches and schools should be “shot”.
“God wanted to show that he is a powerful God,” Ndikumana explained. “One main thing I said, we had faith.”
Baganda was initially charged with 15 counts of aggravated assault. On Monday, 42 additional warrants were issued, bringing the total to 57 counts of aggravated assault.