Gun­man on run af­ter nine slain in at­tack on US black church

Late Break­ing: Sus­pect Dy­lann Roof is caught by po­lice

The China Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY THOMAS WATKINS

A white gun­man was on the run Thurs­day af­ter fa­tally shoot­ing at least nine peo­ple in a his­toric black church in down­town Charleston, South Carolina in what po­lice called a hate crime.

Wor­ship­pers were at­tend­ing a prayer meet­ing in the Emanuel African Methodist Epis­co­pal Church on Wed­nes­day evening when the gun­man walked in and opened fire, Charleston Po­lice Chief Gre­gory Mullen said.

The shoot­ing comes at a time of height­ened racial ten­sions in Amer­ica, af­ter sev­eral high-pro­file killings of un­armed black men at the hands of white po­lice in re­cent months led to ri­ots and a na­tional de­bate on race.

In Wed­nes­day’s shoot­ing, eight peo­ple were killed in­side the church, and another vic­tim died at a trauma cen­ter shortly af­ter. Sev­eral other peo­ple were wounded.

“At this point, we have nine vic­tims in this hideous crime that has been com­mit­ted,” Mullen told jour­nal­ists.

Among the dead was the church’s pas­tor Cle­menta Pinck­ney, who was also a South Carolina state sen­a­tor, the Charleston Post and Courier re­ported, cit­ing church mem­bers, friends and po­lit­i­cal col­leagues.

Po­lice said the sus­pect was a clean-shaven white man in his early 20s. As of 4:00 a.m. Thurs­day (0800 GMT), he re­mained at large and of­fi­cers swarmed the city with the help of he­li­copters and track­ing dogs to try to find him.

“He ob­vi­ously is ex­tremely dan­ger­ous,” Mullen said.

Of­fi­cers also in­ves­ti­gated a pos­si­ble bomb threat af­ter the shoot- ing, but sev­eral hours later gave the all-clear.

‘Das­tardly act’

Charleston is known lo­cally as “The Holy City,” due to its large num­ber of churches and his­tor­i­cal mix of im­mi­grant eth­nic groups that brought a va­ri­ety of creeds to the city on the At­lantic coast.

“This is the most un­speak­able and heart- break­ing tragedy,” Mayor Joseph Ri­ley said.

“Peo­ple in prayer on a Wed­nes­day evening. A rit­ual com­ing to­gether, pray­ing and wor­ship­ping God. To have an aw­ful per­son come in and shoot them is, is in­ex­pli­ca­ble.”

AP/AFP

(Left) Po­lice talk to a man out­side the Emanuel AME Church fol­low­ing a shoot­ing in Charleston, South Carolina on Wed­nes­day, June 17. (Right) This se­cu­rity cam­era footage hand­out grab re­leased by the Charleston (South Carolina) Po­lice Depart­ment on Thurs­day, June 18 and ob­tained on the city of Charleston Face­book page shows the man sus­pected of killing nine peo­ple in a shoot­ing at a his­toric black church.

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