Local preacher nephew of minister shot in Tennessee church

CALLOWAY COUNTY, KY – Richie Spann is a local teacher, preacher, and former coach. His uncle, David “Joey” Spann, is the minister of Burnett’s Chapel Church of Christ in Antioch, a neighborhood near Nashville, Tennessee. Sunday, a man walked into his church and started randomly shooting people.

The man police say shot six people and killed a mother of two, Emanuel Kidega Samson, will make his first court appearance Wednesday.

Forty minutes after wrapping up a sermon in Milburn, Kentucky, Richie Spann got the call that his uncle was shot after church. He tells us his uncle is in critical, but stable condition. He was shot in the hand and in the chest. His wife, Peggy, was shot in the femur and underwent surgery Sunday. “He said he looked over and saw Peggy lying down, and he said ‘I’m sorry,’ because he couldn’t stop it,” Spann told us.

Richie Spann’s uncle practically raised him, and he feels more like a brother or best friend to him. “He’s like my right arm in many ways. He’s David Joe Spann. I’m Richie Joe Spann. It’s just one of those things. We can finish each other’s sentences,” he said. They’re also preachers, teachers, and coaches.

The local preacher just returned back to his home in our area Sunday night around 11:30, but insisted on returning to work at Calloway County Middle School. Monday is a scheduled parent teacher conference night. He’ll return Nashville later this week.

Despite everything, Richie Spann and his uncle have grace. “Joey even said when he was talking me and Mike, ‘Pray for the guy,’ talking about the shooter,” he said.

He doesn’t want this to define a new dynamic in America’s churches, saying, “This is the stuff that we’ll talk about, but this is also the stuff we don’t let define us in our faith.”

Spann is worried about churches like his going forward. “Do you lock the doors? Is that a fire hazard now? When mom takes her baby out and hears the door close, do you turn around and look? Do you post somebody armed by the door?” he said.

His overall message is to stay vigilant in protecting yourself and serving God. “Protect yourself, absolutely. Protect your family, absolutely. But worship in truth and spirit and pray for those who harm you.”

Sunday, he preached about doing the Christian thing, even when it’s difficult. He had no clue he’d be tested on that very lesson the same day. He said feels anger and disgust, but is biting his tongue Monday. Spann hopes he can forgive and sow seeds of kindness, rather than despair.

He said wants to walk and talk like a Christian, but he thinks seeing the defendant show no remorse in court, or seeing his aunt and uncle in tears in the future will make that much more difficult.

He said he’s worried about the future of his uncle’s church. He thinks Spann and his congregation may experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in the future.

Richie Spann said the shooter visited the Antioch church a few years ago. He also learned the accused shooter attended Vacation Bible School recently.

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