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THE WASHINGTON POST

Police are searching for a gunman who opened fire Wednesday night at a historic African American church in downtown Charleston, S.C. Charleston officials said 9 people were killed and others injured.

“This is the most unspeakable and hearbreaking tragedy,” said Mayor Riley. “People in prayer, coming together, praying and worshiping God, to have an awful person come in and shoot them is inexplicable, obviously the most intolerable and unbelievable act possible.”

The Charleston Police Department said the victims have not been identified.

Police in Charleston, South Carolina are investigating a shooting at a downtown church. Local media are reporting that the shooting happened at the Emmanuel AME church at about 9pm Wednesday night. (Reuters)

Police said the shooting occurred about 9 p.m. at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church between Henrietta and Calhoun streets near Marion Square in downtown Charleston.

State Sen. Marlon Kimpson (D-Charleston), who said he had spoken with Charleston County Sheriff Al Cannon, told the Post and Courier, “It’s my understanding that there are some very serious injuries and possibly deaths.”

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley (R) said in a statement Wednesday night that she is praying for the victims and their families.

“While we do not yet know all of the details, we do know that we’ll never understand what motivates anyone to enter one of our places of worship and take the life of another,” she said. “Please join us in lifting up the victims and their families with our love and prayers.”

Police described the suspect as a clean-shaven white male in his early 20s with a small build, wearing a a gray sweatshirt, blue jeans and Timberland boots. He is still at large.

Armed police wearing bullet-proof vests swarmed the scene to search for the suspect. Police told local reporters to back away, citing a bomb threat, the Post and Courier reported.

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