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 this past Sunday helped to save a church from becoming the next Mother Emanuel AME shooting.

Pastor Ezekiel Ndikumana noticed 26-year-old Dezire Baganda sitting at the front of the Nashville Light Mission Pentecostal Church, when he pulled out a gun and walked up to the altar where the pastor was praying along with several church members.

Baganda told everyone to get up while he waved and pointed the handgun at the congregation, according to Metro police.

Pastor Ndikumana quickly tackled the gunman before he was able to fire any shots. Immediately, several church members descended to help wrestle the gun away from Baganda and held him down until police arrived.

“He wanted to kill, that’s what first came to my mind,” Ndikumana told News 2 as choir member Nzojibugami Noe translated for him. Noe was also in the first row during the incident.

“He was standing in front of almost everybody. No one was behind him yet, so he could have done anything,” Noe recalled.

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News 2’s Nikki McGee shared video of the incident, where Pastor Ndikumana can be seen walking behind Baganda pretending to exit the church before sneaking behind him and forcing 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, according to the pastor, he had attended services before. He reportedly was 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 10 a.m. Sunday sermon, remaining calm until the outburst happened around 12:45 p.m.

Pastor Ndikumana was credited by the congregation with saving their lives, and according to an arrest affidavit, Baganda stated that he was “Jesus” and that all churches and schools needed to be “shot up.” 

“God wanted to show that he’s a powerful God,” Ndikumana explained. “One main thing I said, we had faith.”

Baganda was originally charged with 15 counts of felony aggravated assault. On Monday, 42 additional warrants were issued, bringing the total to 57 counts of felony aggravated assault.

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