An unknown gunman has killed at least nine people at a historic African-American church in the US city of Charleston, in what police called a hate crime. Reports on Thursday said police found eight bodies inside the church. Two other victims were rushed to the hospital, where one of the injured died. Aljazeera has more:
Charleston Mayor Joe Riley called the shooting “an unspeakable and heartbreaking tragedy”. “We will make sure that this person will pay for this act.” The suspect was described as a 21-year-old white man wearing a sweatshirt, jeans and boots, Charleston police said in a message on Twitter.
“I do believe that this is a hate crime,” Gregory Mullen, police chief of Charleston, told reporters. “This is a situation, which is unacceptable in our society. We will catch this individual.” Charleston Police Department spokesman Charles Francis said the shooting occurred at the Emanuel AME Church around 01:00 GMT. He had no information on victims.
Al Jazeera’s John Terrett, reporting from the US capital Washington DC, said church pastor Clementa Pinckney, who is also a state senator, reportedly was among the dead. Officials did not immediately release the names or any details of the victims.