Police are calling a pastor “heroic” after he tackled an armed suspect who threatened his parishioners during a church service on Sunday in Nashville, Tennessee.
A statement released by the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department stated that Dezire Baganda, 26, pulled a firearm while sitting in the front row of the Nashville Light Mission Pentecostal Church before walking up to the altar where the pastor was busy praying with several of the members of his flock.
“Baganda told everyone to get up while he waved and pointed the handgun at the congregation,” the statement revealed.
The pastor — identified by an ABC affiliate in Chicago as Ezekiel Ndikumana — quickly tackled Baganda before any shots were fired. Several church members jumped in to assist in disarming Baganda and holding him to the ground until police got to the church, the statement said.
“When I saw him looking this way and pointing the gun this way, I pushed the chair and I ran. He wanted to kill. That’s the first thing that came to my mind,” the pastor went on to tell the Nashville news outlet WREG.com during an interview. “I felt the feeling that I would go and grab him.”
Cops then went on to praise the takedown.
“The heroic actions of both the pastor and several of his parishioners saved a church from further violence,” the Nashville police statement continued.
Baganda isn’t a member of the church, but the pastor told authorities he had attended services before. According to WREG.com, he attended the church a couple of months ago when members asked him to stop coming because he kept interrupting the pastor.
He was charged with 15 counts of felony and aggravated assault; other charges may be added, police said. Bail was reportedly set at $375,000.
The Washington Post released a report back in February of 2020 that reveals FBI statistics show a 35 percent increase in hate crimes at churches, synagogues, temples, and mosques from 2014 to 2018.