Nine people have lost their lives in a shooting at a historic black church in Charleston, S.C., police said early Thursday morning. The shocking and brutal attack at a house of worship has left the community around them shocked and dazed at the bloodshed.
Eight people died on the scene at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church and one person was pronounced dead at a hospital, Mullen said.
Among the dead was the state senator who was pastor of the church, Democrat Clementa Pinckney, WCBD reported. Pinckney, 41, was married with two children and had served in the state Senate since 2000, according to online biographies.
People were taking part in a prayer meeting at the time of the incident, Mayor Joe Riley said during the press conference.
“This is inexplicable,” Riley said. “It is the most intolerable and unbelievable act possible… The only reason someone could walk into church and shoot people praying is out of hate.”
Said Police Chief Mullen: “This is a tragedy that no community should have to experience. It is senseless. It is unfathomable that someone would walk into a church when people are having a prayer meeting and take their lives.”
Emanuel is the oldest AME church in the South and has one of the oldest and largest black congregations south of Baltimore, according to its website. Denmark Vesey, executed for attempting to organize a major slave rebellion, was one of the founders.
The shooting took place at about 9 p.m. ET, Charleston police said. The gunman is still on the loose, they said.
The suspect is a clean-shaven white male about 21-years-old with sandy blond hair, and is wearing a gray sweatshirt or hoodie, blue jeans and Timberland boots, officials said.
Let us all band together and pray for justice for the victims of this disgusting crime. These folks did not deserve to die. A crazed gunman decided to end their lives at their place of worship. Sick. May God have mercy on your soul.
Written by Katoe McGuire. Follow Katie om Twitter @GOPKatie, or email the author at [email protected]