9 people were killed last night while attending Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, including the pastor. Reports say a white male in his early twenties entered the prayer meeting and opened fire, leaving 8 dead at the scene. Two people were rushed to the hospital, where one died. Names have not been released. The shootings took place around 9 pm.
Charleston Police Chief, Greg Mullins, says the murders will be investigated as hate crimes, while the city’s mayor, Mayor Joseph P. Riley described the shooting “the most unspeakable and heartbreaking tragedy.” At this time, the shooter still remains at large, and Mullins says a reward for information on his whereabouts. The suspect is described as a white male in his early twenties, clean cut with a slender build and sandy blonde hair.
The community gathered to mourn the slain victims. Historically, Emanuel AME is one of the oldest and largest Black AME churches, and civil rights leaders visited it often.