NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The heroic actions of a Nashville pastor and several of his parishioners likely saved a church from violence Sunday afternoon.
Metro police reported 26-year-old Dezire Baganda was sitting at the front of the Nashville Light Mission Pentecostal Church when he pulled out a gun and walked up to the altar where Pastor Ezekiel Ndikumana was praying along with several church members.
Baganda told everyone to get up as he waved and pointed the handgun at the congregation, Metro police said. The pastor quickly tackled Baganda before he was able to fire any shots. Several church members jumped in to help wrestle the gun away from Baganda and hold him down until police arrived, investigators said.
“He wanted to kill, that’s what first came to my mind,” Ndikumana told NewsNation affiliate WKRN as choir member Nzojibugami Noe translated for him. Noe was also in the first row during the incident.
“He was standing in the front of almost everybody. No one was behind him yet, so he could have done anything,” Noe recalled.
In a video shared by church members, Ndikumana can be seen pretending to exit the church, then walking behind Baganda and tackling him to the ground.
“I would say that God used me because I felt like I was going to use the back door as an example as going on by trying to go behind him. And then I felt the feeling that I would go and grab him… and that’s what happened,” Ndikumana said.
Baganda was not a member of the church, but the pastor said he had attended services there. Church members say he was asked not to attend services last February after interrupting pastors during their sermons. However, attendees said he was never violent. He showed up Sunday for the 10 a.m. service and remained calm until the outburst around 12:45 p.m.
The congregation credited Ndikumana for saving their lives, but he credited a higher power.
“God wanted to show that he’s a powerful God,” Ndikumana explained. “One main thing I said, we had faith.”
Baganda has been charged with 15 counts of felony aggravated assault. More counts are expected to be added, according to police.