Nine dead in Charleston shooting, 'hate crime'

Nine dead in Charleston shooting, 'hate crime'
(Source: Charleston Police Department)
(Source: Charleston Police Department)

Charleston, SC (WBTV) - Nine people, three men and six women, are dead after a gunman opened fire inside a church in Charleston on Wednesday night.

The shooting happened just after 9 p.m. at Emanuel AME Church on Calhoun Street. Police Chief Gregory Mullen said officers responded to the scene where they found eight people dead. A ninth person was taken to the hospital where they later died.

According to officials, South Carolina Sen. Clementa Pinckney, 41, was shot inside the church. Pinckney also served as a pastor at the church.

Charleston Police released surveillance photos of the man wanted in the shooting during a 6 a.m. news conference. They also released a photo of the vehicle they believe he drove away in, described as a black four-door sedan.

"We can catch this no good horrible person and see that he pays the price and then what we will do is what this community has always done, is we're going to put our arms around that church and that church family," Charleston Mayor Joe Riley said in a press conference.

The shooter is described as a white male around 21 years old with a slender build. He was last seen wearing a gray sweat shirt and blue jeans.

Mullen said the shooting happened during a prayer meeting at the church and is being investigated as a hate crime. The FBI is involved in the investigation.

The shooter entered the church and sat with the victims for more than an hour before opening fire, according to police.

Police say the man is considered armed and dangerous.

Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to call 1-800-CALLFBI.

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