Nine people are dead after an attacker opened fire in a historically black church in Charleston, S.C. Wednesday night. “This is an unfathomable and unspeakable act by someone filled with hate, and with a deranged mind,” Charleston Mayor Joseph Riley said in a press conference Thursday morning.
Here is everything we know so far about the incident.
The shooting occurred at Emanuel AME Church, which has a deep history. Police chief Greg Mullen said “there is absolutely no doubt in [his] mind” that the shooting was a hate crime. Three men and six women were killed. Only one of them was taken to the hospital, and that person later died.
The suspect spent almost an hour in the church in a meeting with his future victims before opening fire. Photographs show him entering the church at 8:17 p.m.; the shooting was reported at 9:05 p.m.
The county coroner identified all nine victims by name at a press conference Thursday afternoon:
– Clementa Pinckney, 41, the church’s pastor and a state senator
– Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, 45, a reverend and coach of the girls track team at Goose Creek High School, according to a Facebook post by the school
– Cynthia Hurd, 54, a librarian at the Charleston County Public Library, confirmed by a post on its website
– Tywanza Sanders, 26, a 2014 graduate of Allen University, which Pinckney also attended, reports CBS
– Susie Jackson, 87, a longtime member of the church
– Ethel Lance, 70, a sexton at the church, according to The Post and Courier
– Rev. Depayne Middleton, 49, a mother of four who was also a singer in the church choir
– Rev. Daniel Summons Sr., 74, a retired pastor from another church in Charleston, according to ABC
– Myra Thompson, 59, the wife of a vicar at Holy Trinity REC, according to a tweet by the church
There were three survivors of the attack, who were also not immediately identified.
The city has opened an assistance center in a local hotel for the victims’ families, staffed by victim services personnel and chaplains. Here is information on how to help the victims’ families.
Police identified the suspect as Dylann Roof, 21, of Lexington, S.C. and arrested him Thursday morning after a massive manhunt. The Berkeley County government had released photographs of Roof and information about his car:
The Lexington County Solicitor’s Office told the Guardian that Roof had been arrested on March 2 for possession of a controlled substance.
FBI officials from Washington were called in to help with the manhunt. Police are currently treating the shooting as a hate crime. The Department of Justice has launched a federal civil rights investigation into the incident. “This is a all-hands-on-deck effort with the community as well as law enforcement,” Mullen said.
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