Shooting reported at church in Charleston, South Carolina

Multiple Wounded in S.C. Church Shooting

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) -- A white man opened fire during a prayer meeting inside a historic black church in downtown Charleston on Wednesday night, killing nine people in an assault that authorities described as a hate crime. The shooter was still at large.

The shooting took place at the Emanuel AME Church, Police Chief Greg Mullen said. He said there were survivors, but would not say how many, or how many were inside at the time of the shooting. He also would not confirm whether the pastor, state Sen. Clementa Pinckney, was one of the victims.

Mullen described the suspect as a white male in his early 20s. He said he believed it was a hate crime, but would not elaborate.

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Charleston SC shooting suspect. Dylann Roof
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Shooting reported at church in Charleston, South Carolina
Photos found on a website that allegedly belongs to church shooting suspect Dylann Roof.
Photos found on a website that allegedly belongs to church shooting suspect Dylann Roof.
Photos found on a website that allegedly belongs to church shooting suspect Dylann Roof.
Photos found on a website that allegedly belongs to church shooting suspect Dylann Roof.
Photos found on a website that allegedly belongs to church shooting suspect Dylann Roof.
Photos found on a website that allegedly belongs to church shooting suspect Dylann Roof.
Photos found on a website that allegedly belongs to church shooting suspect Dylann Roof.
Photos found on a website that allegedly belongs to church shooting suspect Dylann Roof.
Photos found on a website that allegedly belongs to church shooting suspect Dylann Roof.
Photos found on a website that allegedly belongs to church shooting suspect Dylann Roof.
Photos found on a website that allegedly belongs to church shooting suspect Dylann Roof.
This image has been provided by the Charleston Police Department, Thursday, June 18, 2015. A man opened fire during a prayer meeting inside a historic black church in downtown Charleston, S.C., Wednesday night, June 17, 2015, killing nine people, including the pastor in an assault that authorities are calling a hate crime. The shooter remained at large Thursday. (Photo via Charleston Police Department)
The Emanuel AME Church is viewed behind a police vehicle on June 18, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina, after a mass shooting at the Church on the evening of June 17, 2015. US police on Thursday arrested a 21-year-old white gunman suspected of killing nine people at a prayer meeting in one of the nation's oldest black churches in Charleston, an attack being probed as a hate crime. The shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in the southeastern US city was one of the worst attacks on a place of worship in the country in recent years, and comes at a time of lingering racial tensions. AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
A police officer holds up a tape in front of the Emanuel AME Church June 18, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina, after a mass shooting at the church on the evening of June 17, 2015. US police on Thursday arrested a 21-year-old white gunman suspected of killing nine people at a prayer meeting in one of the nation's oldest black churches in Charleston, an attack being probed as a hate crime. The shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in the southeastern US city was one of the worst attacks on a place of worship in the country in recent years, and comes at a time of lingering racial tensions. AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
A view ofthe Emanuel AME Church is seen June 18, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina, after a mass shooting at the church on the evening of June 17, 2015. US police on Thursday arrested a 21-year-old white gunman suspected of killing nine people at a prayer meeting in one of the nation's oldest black churches in Charleston, an attack being probed as a hate crime. The shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in the southeastern US city was one of the worst attacks on a place of worship in the country in recent years, and comes at a time of lingering racial tensions. AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
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"The only reason that someone could walk into a church and shoot people praying is out of hate," said Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley. "It is the most dastardly act that one could possibly imagine, and we will bring that person to justice. ... This is one hateful person."

As police and the city's mayor updated the news media, a group of pastors huddled together praying in a circle across the street.

Police moved members of the news media back away from the site due to what they called an "imminent" threat. They did not release any details.

The campaign of GOP presidential hopeful Jeb Bush sent out an email saying that due to the shooting, the candidate had canceled an event planned in the city Thursday.

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Charleston shooting - tweets, politician reactions, front pages, etc.
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Shooting reported at church in Charleston, South Carolina
Senator Pinckney was my friend for over 20 years. I’m speechless, heartbroken and angry. God grant his family some peace right now.
Shocked & heartbroken by the murder of innocent people in #Charleston church. Praying for the victims & their families. #CharlestonShooting
My heart is with beautiful #Charleston this morning. Sending love and prayers to those affected by this tragic shooting.
Hard to comprehend the kind of hate that slaughters innocents in a church during bible study. Very heavy heart. #Charleston
NAACP's #Charlotte chapter announcing a prayer vigil for #Charleston today https://t.co/8amd9983NS
Prayers for #Charleston
Today's tragic front page. http://t.co/uPj4AOavhn #CharlestonShooting #PrayForCharleston #chsnews http://t.co/2qkCWHqu1M
Heartbreaking news from Charleston - my thoughts and prayers are with you all. -H
Our thoughts and prayers are with the individuals and families affected by the tragic events in Charleston.
Statement from South Carolina Gov. @nikkihaley on Charleston church shootings http://t.co/cdt2stkbkw
Dr. King at #EmanuelAME. #HistoricBlackChurch #CivilRightsMovement #CharlestonShooting http://t.co/Iu3ihGjQ2V
I'm praying #CharlestonShooting
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The Emmanuel AME church is a historic African-American church that traces its roots to 1816, when several churches split from Charleston's Methodist Episcopal church.

One of its founders, Denmark Vesey, tried to organize a slave revolt in 1822. He was caught, and white landowners had his church burned in revenge. Parishioners worshipped underground until after the Civil War.

The shooting happened the day before the eighth anniversary of a fire at a furniture store that killed nine Charleston firefighters.

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