Nine people were killed Wednesday night (June 17) when a gunman opened fire at a South Carolina church service. The shooting occurred at a historic church in downtown Charleston, the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.
Fox News reports the gunman, who has not yet been identified, is on the run. A manhunt is underway across the country to capture the dangerous criminal.
The shooting left six women and three men dead, including the church’s pastor, state senator Clementa Pinckney. Police said there were some survivors, but did not say how many. Survivors include a five-year-old girl who played dead to survive the attack and a woman who was ordered by the gunman to tell others what had happened.
The attack was labelled a hate crime by police, as the church is a historically black church. The gunman, who can be seen in surveillance footage, is a white man who appears to be between the ages of 20 and 25.
Charleston Mayor Joseph Riley condemned the violence and vowed that authorities would find the shooter.
“This is an unspeakable and unfathomable act by somebody filled with hate and a deranged mind,” he said.
Charleston Police Chief Greg Mullen said, “This is a tragedy that no community should have to experience. It is senseless and unfathomable in today’s society that someone would walk into a church during a prayer meeting and take their lives.”
Update: Police have arrested gunman Dylann Storm Roof, 21.