CHARLESTON, S.C. 06/17/15 — Nine people have died in a shooting at a historic black church in Charleston, S.C., police said early Thursday morning.

“I do believe this was a hate crime,” Police Chief Gregory Mullen said.

Eight people died on the scene at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church and one person was pronounced dead at a hospital, Mullen said. The suspect, who remains on the loose, is a white male about 21 years old, officials said. The shooting took place at about 9 p.m. ET on Wednesday. Charleston Police released photos of the suspect during a news conference that started at 6 a.m. ET Thursday, and said he left the scene in a black four door sedan. The suspect is a clean-shaven young white male, about 5 feet 9 inches tall, of slender build and with sandy blond hair. He was wearing a gray sweatshirt or hoodie, blue jeans and Timberland boots, officials said. He is described as “armed and dangerous.”

"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." Said Police Chief Mullen

"There is no greater coward than a criminal who enters a house of God and slaughters innocent people engaged in the study of scripture.”


‘The Condition of Black Life Is One of Mourning’
The murder of three men and six women at a church in Charleston is a national tragedy, but in America, the killing of black people is an unending spectacle.
By Claudia Rankine

We live in a country where Americans assimilate corpses in their daily comings and goings. Dead blacks are a part of normal life here. Dying in ship hulls, tossed into the Atlantic, hanging from trees, beaten, shot in churches, gunned down by the police or warehoused in prisons: Historically, there is no quotidian without the enslaved, chained or dead black body to gaze upon or to hear about or to position a self against. When blacks become overwhelmed by our culture’s disorder and protest (ultimately to our own detriment, because protest gives the police justification to militarize, as they did in Ferguson), the wrongheaded question that is asked is, What kind of savages are we? Rather than, What kind of country do we live in?

Just hours after police apprehended 21-year-old Dylann Roof in Shelby, N.C., authorities flew him back to Charleston, S.C., a city that was still trying to comprehend the crime Roof is accused of committing.

NPR’s Cheryl Corley reports that many residents stopped outside the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church on Thursday. They laid flowers at the foot of the grand Gothic Revival church originally built in 1891.

In Charleston, A City Gathers To Mourn, Try To Understand Mass Shooting

Photo credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images