A tragic and horrible hate crime was committed in Charleston, South Carolina last night.
UPDATE: Here are the names and ages of the nine victims as identified by the Charleston County Coroner Rae Wooten: Cynthia Hurd, 54; Susie Jackson, 87; Ethel Lance, 70; Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor, 49; Hon. Rev. Clementa Pinckney, 41; Tywanza Sanders, 26; Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr., 74; Rev. Sharonda Singleton, 45; Myra Thompson, 59. Click to read the life story of each of the victims.
According to CNN, Dylann Roof, 21, of Lexington, South Carolina, is the suspect in Wednesday’s deadly shooting at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC the Charleston police said Thursday. He may be driving a black Hyundai with vehicle tag LGF330.
UPDATE: Charleston church shooting suspect Dylann Roof has been taken into custody in Shelby, North Carolina, law enforcement officers said. (CNN)
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According to the Charleston Police chief, Greg Mullen, a white man spent an hour in a prayer meeting at the historic African-American church in Charleston on Wednesday night before he opened fire.
Nine people were killed — six females and three males, Mullen said. Three people survived, including a woman who received a message from the shooter.
“Her life was spared, and (she was) told, I’m not going to kill you, I’m going to spare you, so you can tell them what happened,” Charleston NAACP President Dot Scott told CNN.
Federal authorities have opened a hate crime investigation.
“The only reason someone would walk into a church and shoot people that were praying is hate,” Charleston Mayor Joe Riley said.
Eight churchgoers died at the scene; a ninth at a hospital, police said.
From a New York Times account:
Sylvia Johnson, one of the Rev. Clementa Pinckney’s cousins, said in an interview with NBC that she had spoken with one of the survivors of the shooting, who gave her this account.
The gunman arrived at the church and asked for the pastor, taking a seat next to him for the study meeting. At the end, the survivor told Ms. Johnson, they suddenly heard loud noises. The gunman had opened fire, and reloaded five times.
“Her son was trying to talk him out of doing the act of killing people,” Ms. Johnson said.
According to Ms. Johnson, the survivor said the gunman replied.
“He just said: ‘I have to do it. You rape our women and you are taking over our country. And you have to go.’ “
Among the victims was the church pastor, the Rev. Clementa Pinckney. Pinckney was also a state senator and a major spokesperson for the black community.
Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church is the oldest AME church in the South, the Department of Justice said.
President Obama’s remarks on the shooting