9 Killed in Charleston Church Shooting

 In Breaking News, Domestic

Update: the shooter has been identified as 21 year old Dylann Roof, who was arrested twice this year in Lexington County. He was arrested by authorities in North Carolina on Thursday morning.  He reportedly told people that he was there to “Shoot black people.” He is thought to have used a handgun given to him on his birthday.

dylannroof

Dylann Roof, suspect in the Charleston Church shooting has been arrested.

Charleston, South Carolina is the scene of an intense manhunt for a white male who murdered 9 people at a Charleston church prayer meeting shortly after 9 pm last night. One of the people killed was a member of the State Senate and a prominent pastor.

Police are calling it a hate crime, as the surveillance video shows a white man entering the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.  Police describe him as a about 21 years old, clean shaven, with sandy blonde hair (does not show that on the surveillance picture), wearing “timberland” boots, a gray sweatshirt and jeans.

charleston church shooting

Surveillance footage released by police

The suspect entered the church and sat in a pew for about an hour before opening fire at around 9:06 pm. A five year old girl reportedly escaped the carnage by playing dead. One woman was released to tell people about the shooting, but it is not clear what message she was told to give. Ultimately, 6 women and 3 men were killed.

“We are committed to do whatever is necessary to bring this individual to justice… This is a tragedy that no community should have to experience. It is senseless and unfathomable in today’s society that someone would walk into a church during a prayer meeting and take their lives.” Charleston Police Chief Greg Mullen

The suspect is still at large. Police are reviewing surveillance tapes from different places in Charleston and surrounding areas to find the suspect. The FBI is aiding Charleston Police in the investigation, and have opened a civil rights investigation.

Among the dead was South Carolina State Senator Clementa Pinckney, 41. He was the youngest black man elected to office at his first election in 1996. He was a state senator since 2000, and had been a pastor since the age of 18.

A family assistance center was set up across the street from the church, and a group of pastors formed a circle nearby to pray for the victims and families.

One community organizer stated that he was “very angry right now” over this incident. Charleston is known for its many places of worship through different denominations. This particular AME church has been in Charleston since 1816.  

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