A shooting occurred in Charleston, South Carolina overnight. The incident occurred around 9pm at the predominately black Emanuel AME Church during a group bible study. According to police, a shooter entered the church and started shooting. When police arrived to the scene, they found eight lifeless victims inside of the church. Others were transported to area hospitals to be treated for their injuries.
Police were unable to capture the shooter when they arrived on scene. However they have suspected a white male in his early twenties. Given the nature of the crime, police have classified this as a racial hate crime. Residents in the area have been placed on high alert as the man is suspected to be on foot close to the crime scene.
Many people gathered together to share their condolences about the incident. Prayer circles were formed near the scene of the crime. One of the victims was Rev. Clementa Pinckney. He was the church’s pastor as well as a state senator. Church’s across the area have come together to support the victims and their families after this heinous crime. They are expected to hold a prayer vigil for the victims today at noon.
The church has a rich history which could have fueled the shooters racial bigotry. Church co-founder, Denmark Vesey played a significant role in the Civil Rights Movement in the 1800s says the investment firm Madison Street Capital. Police are not certain the motives of the shooter can be directly linked, however are moving forward classifying this as a hate crime.