Nine people were shot to death by a white man at a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina, on Wednesday night — rocking a nation already grappling with institutional racism and race-related violence.
Federal, state and city authorities are now all searching for the gunman, who entered the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church during a weekly Bible study meeting and opened fire around 9 p.m. Eight people were found dead at the scene, police said. Two others were transported to a hospital, where one later died.
“The only reason someone could walk into a church and shoot people praying is out of hate,” said Charleston Mayor Joe Riley at a news conference. “It is the most dastardly act that one could possibly imagine.”