US, Nine dead as white gunman opens fire at black church in South Carolina

June 18, 2015 | By | Reply More

Jun 18, – Describing the shooting as a “hate crime”, local police chief Gregory Mullen said the suspect is a clean-shaven white man, aged about 21, who is still at large.

hromedia US Nine dead as white gunman opens fire at black church in South Carolina intl. news3“There were eight deceased individuals inside of the church,” he said.

“Two individuals were transported to [the hospital]. One of them has died.

“At this point, we have nine victims in this hideous crime that has been committed.

“It is unfathomable that somebody in today’s society would walk into a church when people are having a prayer meeting and take their lives.”

The shooting happened about 9:00pm (local time) at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

It is the oldest such church in the south, according to its website.

None of the victims were immediately identified. But the Reverend Al Sharpton, a New York-based civil rights leader, tweeted that the Reverend Clementa Pinckney, the church’s pastor and a member of the state Senate, was among the fatalities.

After the shooting, a bomb threat was reported near the church, Charleston County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Eric Watson said, and people who were gathered in the area were told by police to move back.

Chief Mullen told the press conference that the all-clear had been given after checks following the bomb threat.

“This is an unspeakable and heartbreaking tragedy in this most historic church, an evil and hateful person took the lives of citizens who had come to worship and pray together,” Charleston mayor Joe Riley said.

South Carolina governor Nikki Haley said in a statement: “[My family] and I are praying for the victims and families touched by tonight’s senseless tragedy at Emanuel AME Church.

“While we do not yet know all of the details, we do know that we’ll never understand what motivates anyone to enter one of our places of worship and take the life of another.”

Police took a man with a backpack and a camera into custody, but later said they were still searching for a suspect in the shooting.

The man, named Austin Rich, was later released and posted on Facebook that he understood that police “officers were simply doing their job and they did it well”.

“They asked several questions, checked my phone records and told me I was clear to go,” Mr Rich said.

“I am thankful for the professionalism of the officers on duty, and have a tremendous amount of respect for them as well.”

Following the attack on the church, Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida, cancelled an appearance in Charleston that had been scheduled for Thursday morning.

“Governor Bush’s thoughts and prayers are with the individuals and families affected by this tragedy,” his campaign team said in a statement.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton also tweeted her condolences.

Charleston is known locally as The Holy City due to its large number of churches and historical mix of immigrant ethnic groups that brought a variety of creeds to the southern city on the Atlantic coast.

Press journalist for HRO media – Ignacio Damigo reports.

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Category: International

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