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Fatal Shootings at Mother Emanuel AME Stun Charleston
6/18/2015 10:53:04 AM
Last Updated:
6/18/2015 6:37:11 PM

Pastor Thomas Ravenell of Empowerment Baptist Church leading a spirited prayer on the earlier morning of June 18 . Photo by Joel Woodhall

Prayer circle

Charleston Church Massacre

Wednesday night, Dylann Storm Roof, the gunman who sat in the Emanuel AME Church pews for nearly an hour before opening fire, killed 9 innocent people.

What We Know

At this time, the suspect, 21-year-old Dylann Storm Roof, was apprehended in Shelby, North Carolina at 11am on Thursday, June 18th, without incident.  The suspect was on the run for about 14 hours after the shooting.

The shooting took place yesterday evening, Wednesday, June 18th, around 9:05pm, Eastern Time.  Emanuel AME Church is a historically black church and one of the oldest in the south.  Rev. Clementa Pinckney is the senior pastor of Emanuel AME.

According to Police Chief Greg Mullen, there are 9 dead total, 3 male, 6 female.  3 people survived the shooting; 1 of the survivors was transported to the hospital and 2 were unharmed.  Last night, 8 of the 9 people died inside the walls of the church, the 9th died at the hospital.  Authorities have not officially released any victim’s names at this time.

Police have confirmed that this incident is being investigated as a ‘hate crime.’

“This tragedy, that we are addressing right now, is indescribable,” Charleston Police Chief Greg Mullen expressed during the 7am press conference.  “We will catch this individual.”

According to Charleston radio DJ Mike Edwards, Charleston Mix 96.9, he received “multiple text messages from first responder friends who were involved with the incident.”  According to Edwards, the text messages were sent to him around 2 and 3 am, with the first responders saying, “I will not be able to go to sleep.”

Victim Names

The Charleston County Coroner has confirmed the identity of the 9 shooting victims who were gunned down inside Mother Emanuel AME Church.

S.C. Senator/Rev. Clementa Pinckney, 41
Cythia Hurd, 54
Susie Jackson, 87
Ethel Lance, 70
Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor, 49
Rev. Daniel Simmons, Sr., 74 – Died at MUSC
Tywanza Sanders, 26
Myra Thompson, 59
Rev. Sharonda Singleton, 45

Downtown Charleston, Wednesday, June 17th

An eerie calm rang across the streets of Charleston on Wednesday evening, following the massacre of 9 churchgoers.  Typically, the streets of Charleston are filled with life and laughter; Wednesday night, they were filled with local supporters and media cameras.  Originally, the press was posted up at the corner of Meeting Street and Calhoun Street, about a half block from Emanuel AME Church.  At 11:45 pm, everybody in the area was pushed back to King Street and Calhoun, due to a possible bomb threat in the area.

The strong police presence in the downtown area included hovering helicopters scouring the streets, law enforcement officers blocking off a large section of Calhoun Street, and K-9s could be heard barking in the area.  

Community leaders on scene included S.C. House Rep. Wendell Gilliard, Elder James Johnson, Black Lives Matters Leader Muhiyidin d'Baha, NCCCR Co-Chairman Jesse Williams, Pastor Thomas Dixon, and Leonard Riley.

Prayer circles were held among the crowds throughout the night, lead by the community leaders.   

Law enforcement officials on scene included FBI, SLED, and local Charleston authorities.  Charleston Mayor, Joe Riley and Charleston Police Chief, Greg Mullen held the first press conference at 12:45 am at the corner of King Street and Calhoun Street.

“Obviously, let me say, this is the worst night of my career,” Police Chief Mullen says, during the late night press conference.  “This is a tragedy, that no community should have to experience.”  

Developing Information

Billie Jean Shaw (Twitter @BillieJeanTV), a WIS 10 reporter from Columbia, SC, says she spoke with Sylvia Johnson, a family member of Rev. Clementa Pinckney.  Shaw tweeted out at 4:01am and 4:04am, saying, “Family members of the pastor tell me that the gunmen sat through the whole bible study before shooting the members…family members also tell that the suspect reloaded 5 times before shooting and killing 8 people.”

Information is developing that the shooter may have let 1 woman survive the incident “in order to tell the story.”

This is a developing story.  Check back for updates.

For the latest, follow Joel Woodhall on Twitter @jwopd

Written 9:51am, Thursday, June 18, 2015
Updated 4:03pm, Thursday, June 18, 2015


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