Just imagine the horror of being in church worshiping God, only for someone to come in and shoot nine people dead!
At least nine people have been killed after a gunman opened fire at a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina, in what police have described as a “hate crime”…
Gunfire erupted on Wednesday inside the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church, whose pastor Clementa Pinckney, a Democratic member of the South Carolina Senate, was named as one of the dead.
Eight of the victims were killed in the church. Another died on the way to hospital. Charleston police chief Greg Mullen said there were survivors, but declined to give more details.
The 49-year-old was director of a community development grant programme in Charleston but retired in 2005.
The gunman had yet to be caught hours after the attack and was considered extremely dangerous, he said.
Mullen said he believed the shooting was “a hate crime”. He said: This is a tragedy that no community should have to experience … It is senseless, unfathomable. We are going to do everything in our power to find this individual, to lock him [the gunman] up, to make sure he does not hurt anyone else.
“The primary emphasis is going to be us catching this individual before he hurts anybody else”.
A reward would be announced on Thursday, he said.
The city’s mayor, Joseph P Riley Jr said
“People in prayer on a Wednesday evening, a ritual coming together, praying and worshipping God. To have an awful person come in and shoot them is inexplicable, obviously the most intolerable and unbelievable act possible,”
Police have not named the victims but the Democratic party leader in the South Carolina state house confirmed pastor and state senator Pinckney was among the dead. “He was always out doing work either for his parishioners or his constituents. He touched everybody,” minority leader Todd Rutherford told AP.
Pinckney helped lead a prayer vigil in April for Walter Scott, a black South Carolina man who was shot dead by a North Charleston police officer. He campaigned for police to be equipped with body cameras, which he said “may not be the golden ticket, the golden egg, the end-all-fix-all, but [would help] to paint a picture of what happens during a police stop”. Mandatory body cameras became law in the state one week ago.
The Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church traces its roots to 1816 and is one of the largest black congregations south of Baltimore. The Reverand Martin Luther king Jr addressed the church in 1962.
South Carolina governor Nikki Haley said in a statement she and her family were praying for the victims. “While we do not yet know all of the details, we do know that we’ll never understand what motivates anyone to enter one of our places of worship and take the life of another,” she said.
Police released an image of the gunman and a car from video at a press conference on Thursday. The suspect, who is still on the loose, has been described as a clean-shaved, white male aged approximately 21, with a small, slender build, wearing a grey sweatshirt with jeans and boots.