Tennessee pastor tackles man who pointed gun at people during church service, police say

·3 min read

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A Nashville pastor is being hailed a hero by his congregation after he tackled a man waving a gun in the air and pointing it at people during a church service Sunday, police said.

No shots were fired and no one was injured during the incident at Nashville Light Mission Pentecostal Church, the Metro Nashville Police Department reported.

Police identified the man with the gun as 26-year-old Dezire Baganda. Records show he faces 15 charges of felony aggravated assault. More charges are expected to come early this week, MNPD said.

On Monday, Baganda remained jailed in Davidson County on a $375,000 bond. He is set to appear before a judge Wednesday, court records show.

"God was taking care of me and everyone else in the building," Nzojibugami Noe, who sat in the sanctuary's front row and watched the incident unfold, told The Tennessean, part of the USA TODAY Network, on Monday.

Noe, a choir and church member, identified the pastor as Ezekiel Ndikumana.

Congregation members at Nashville Light Mission Pentecostal Church after a man with a gun disrupted their service Sunday, Nov. 7, 2021. The pastor, Ezekiel Ndikumana, tackled the man and other church members held him while police responded.
Congregation members at Nashville Light Mission Pentecostal Church after a man with a gun disrupted their service Sunday, Nov. 7, 2021. The pastor, Ezekiel Ndikumana, tackled the man and other church members held him while police responded.

How the incident unfolded

Metro police spokesman Don Aaron said the pastor was praying with several members at the altar as the suspect was sitting in a row off to the right side of him.

According to an arrest affidavit, the pastor then conducted an altar call and stepped down from the pulpit where he was preaching. The suspect stood up and began making his way to the pulpit.

Once on the stage, where the pulpit was located, the affidavit continues, the suspect pulled a handgun from his waistband and began waving it at the entire congregation "causing turmoil."

At some point, Aaron said, the pastor managed to sneak behind the suspect.

"After moving a chair out of his way, he rushed and tackled the suspect, bringing him to the ground," Aaron said. Others joined to help disarm him, he added, and the group held him down until officers arrived.

Noe, a 26-year-old choir member at the church, said the 85 person congregation had 68 people in attendance Sunday.

Ndikumana, who has led the church since 2009 after immigrating to the United States in 2007 from Burundi, played a heroic role with God's help, Noe said.

"It happened real fast," Noe recalled. "He snuck right behind me as soon as he got up and snagged to the left pretending to go out, then quickly quickly got on him. ... It was very amazing."

Although Baganda was not a member of the church, the pastor told police that Baganda had attended there before.

A motive in the attack remained under investigation Monday.

Back-to-school gun violence: Active shooter drills may not be the answer.

'All churches and schools'

According to an arrest affidavit, the action of the suspect put the lives of the entire congregation at risk and caused them to fear for their lives.

It goes on to read that while being taken into custody, Baganda told police he was Jesus and that "all churches and schools need to be shot up."

Follow Rachel Wegner on Twitter @rachelannwegner.

This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Pastor tackles man with gun at Nashville church service, police say