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Charleston Church Shooting: 9 Dead In Horrific Massacre, Gunman Still On The Loose

Thu, June 18, 2015 7:54am EDT by Avery Thompson 3 Comments

Nine people were brutally shot and killed on June 17 when a gunman walked into a historic African American church in Charleston and opened fire. Police are in the midst of a manhunt to find the ‘extremely dangerous’ gunman.

What a terrible and heartbreaking tragedy. Nine people have died after being shot dead by a gunman during a Wednesday evening bible study at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina on June 17. Police are calling this horrific act a “hate crime” and are actively searching for the gunman, who is still on the loose.

A white man, who has not yet been identified, walked into the historic African American church and killed nine people, CNN reports. Eight churchgoers, including the church’s pastor, Rev. Clementa Pinckney, died at the scene; the ninth at a hospital. Police were notified of the shooting at around 9 p.m.

The gunman had been in the church for a meeting and waited about an hour before he started shooting, according to Daily Mail. He reportedly spared one woman’s life so she could tell the world of what happened. One of the survivors is a 5-year-old, whose grandmother told her to play dead. One of the victims is being treated at a local hospital.

The gunman is also still at large. Police said the suspect is a clean-shaven white man wearing a gray sweatshirt, blue jeans and Timberland boots. He is said to be in his early 20s, 5’9″ with a slender build and sandy blonde hair. “He obviously is extremely dangerous,” Charleston Police Chief Greg Mullen said.

On June 18, police began handing out images of the suspect and his car obtained from surveillance footage. Police believe he is still in the Charleston area. The shooting is currently being investigated as a hate crime. “The only reason someone would walk into a church and shoot people that were praying is hate,” Charleston Mayor Joe Riley said. “I do believe this was a hate crime.”

Charleston Church Shooting: An ‘Intolerable & Unbelievable Act’

The city of Charleston is mourning the loss of the nine victims. However, they are staying strong in the hopes that the suspect is caught and brought to justice. The mayor called the shooting “obviously the most intolerable and unbelievable act possible.”

“People in prayer Wednesday evening. A ritual, a coming together, praying, worshiping God. An awful person come in and shoot them is inexplicable,” he added.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims’ families and friends during this difficult time.

— Avery Thompson