UPDATE: Police have captured the alleged shooter, 21-year-old Dylann Roof, in Shelby, N.C. after a citizen’s tip led them to his vehicle. Officials are transporting him to his home state of South Carolina before announcing any charges.
Nine are dead in what officials are calling a hate crime after a gunman opened fire at a Charleston, S.C., AME church.
According to CNN, police say that a white male in his early 20s entered the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, the oldest AME in the South, last night around 8 p.m. After sitting in on the church’s bible study group for an hour, he opened fire on the worshippers. Eight died at the church, one died at a nearby hospital and another is being treated for injuries. Among the dead was Rev. Clementa Pinckney, who was also a South Carolina state senator who recently backed a bill supporting police body cameras. Police said there were three survivors at the scene. The gunman is still at large.
“The only reason someone would walk into a church and shoot people that were praying is hate,” Charleston Mayor Joe Riley said at a press conference.
Officials have released surveillance video showing the shooter entering the church. Police say that he is 5-feet-9-inches, clean-shaven and wearing jeans, a gray sweatshirt and Timberlands, reports a Charleston NBC news affiliate. He is considered dangerous and believed to still be in the Charleston area.
Residents gathered in prayer early this morning. They asked that the community remain peaceful and united.
“We need the community to look at this and say, ‘We have had enough of this violence, and if we stand up together, we can stop this violence,'” Charleston police chief Gregory Mullen said at a press conference. “And that’s what we need the community to do. I understand that people might be angry, and I understand that people might be upset. And that is certainly emotions that we all understand, but what we need to do is come together and help us, to support the families, support or community and catch this person so he doesn’t hurt somebody else.”
A local pastor tells Charleston News 2 that a prayer vigil is scheduled for noon today at Charleston’s Morris Brown AME church.
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