A white gunman opened fire during a prayer service in a historically black Charleston, S.C. church Wednesday night (June 17) killing nine people, in what authorities are describing as a hate crime.
According to reports, the shooter, who is still at large, attended the Bible study class and stayed for about an hour before killing Pastor & state senator Clementa Pinckney and eight other attendees. One attendee is reportedly wounded.
Surveillance photos show the suspect, a white man in his early 20s, leaving Emanuel AME Church in a dark colored sedan. However, Police Chief Greg Mullen could not verify the vehicle’s make and model.
Six women and three men were tragically killed in the unprovoked attack, which Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley, Jr. said in a press conference was “an unfathomable and unspeakable act by somebody filled with hate and with a deranged mind.”
“Of all cities, in Charleston, to have a horrible hateful person go into the church and kill people there to pray and worship with each other is something that is beyond any comprehension and is not explained,” Riley said. “We are going to put our arms around that church and that church family.”
The U.S. Department of Justice has launched a hate crime investigation. If you have any additional information on the gunman, dial: 1-800-CALL-FBI.
Photo Credit: The Associated Press