CHARLESTON, SC (WVUE) - ?
South Carolina State Senator Clementa C. Pinckney is among the nine dead following a shooting inside of an historic African-American church in Charleston, South Carolina.
Nine people were killed during a prayer meeting inside Emanuel AME Church on Calhoun Street around 9:05 p.m. Wednesday, according to WCSC News.
Among the dead is Pinckney, who served as a pastor for Emanuel AME in addition to his role as a senator for District 45.
Family members of Rev. Pinckney say the gunman sat through an entire bible study before he began shooting church members, reports WCSC. The suspect then fled the scene.
The suspect is still at large. He has been described as a white 21-year-old male with slender build. He is clean shaven and was last seen wearing a sweat shirt and blue jeans.
The shooting is being investigated as a hate crime, reports WCSC.
"The only reason someone could walk into a church and shoot people praying is out of hate, the only reason," said Charleston Mayor Joe Riley. "It is the most dastardly act that one can possibly imagine, and we will bring that person to justice as soon as possible."