Police in manhunt for killer of nine in South Carolina church

Police in manhunt for killer of nine in South Carolina church
A small prayer circle forms nearby where police are responding to a shooting at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina June 17, 2015. A gunman opened fire on Wednesday evening at the historic African-American church in downtown Charleston and was still at large, a U.S. police official said, but there were no immediate confirmed reports of casualties. (Credit: Reuters/Randall Hill)

Police in Charleston, South Carolina, were searching for a white gunman on Thursday who killed nine people in a historic African-American church, in an attack that police and the city’s mayor described as a hate crime.

The shooter, a 21-year-old white man with sandy blond hair, sat with churchgoers inside Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church for about an hour on Wednesday before opening fire, Police Chief Gregory Mullen said.

The victims included Reverend Clementa Pinckney, the church’s pastor and a Democratic member of the state Senate, his cousin and fellow state senator, Kent Williams, told CNN.

The gunman is extremely dangerous, Mullen said, and police did not have a sense of where he might be.

“This is an unfathomable and unspeakable act by somebody filled with hate and with a deranged mind,” Charleston Mayor Joe Riley told reporters.

Six females and three males died in the attack, Mullen said.

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