A white gunman opened fire Wednesday night at a historic black church in downtown Charleston, S.C., killling nine people before fleeing and setting off an overnight manhunt, the police said, the New York Times reports.
At a news conference with Charleston’s mayor early Thursday, the police chief, Greg Mullen, called the shooting a hate crime.
“It is unfathomable that somebody in today’s society would walk into a church while they are having a prayer meeting and take their lives,” he said.
The police said the gunman walked into the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church around 9 p.m. and began shooting.
Eight people died at the scene, Chief Mullen said. Two people were taken to the Medical University of South Carolina, and one of them died on the way.