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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

By Michael Muskal, Los Angeles Times (TNS)

Authorities hunted through Charleston, S.C., early Thursday searching for a white gunman who opened fire at a prayer meeting in a historic black African American church, killing nine people in what officials called a hate crime.

The gunman attended a church meeting for nearly an hour before he began shooting Wednesday evening, Police Chief Greg Mullen told reporters at a televised news briefing Thursday morning.

“We are committed, we are determined, we are definitely working with a number of agents and officers to identify the individual,” said Mullen, who described the attack as a hate crime. “This is a situation that is unacceptable in any society, especially in our city.”

“This is an unfathomable and unspeakable act by somebody filled with hate and a deranged mind,” Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. told reporters. “We will make sure he pays the price for this act.”

The mayor also pledged to reach out to the Emanuel AME Church, a major black congregation with a long and distinguished existence that is rooted in the era before the Civil War.

“We will put our arms around that church and that church family,” Riley pledged.

Police released photographs from a surveillance video showing a suspect and the vehicle used to escape. Mullen said he had no reason to think the man had fled the Charleston area, but sent all information to agencies around the country.

The gunman was described as a white man thought to be in his early 20s. Mullen repeatedly called the attacker a “very dangerous individual,” urging people to call police and not pursue him or his vehicle on their own.

Mullen said he was unable to give a make and model on the suspect’s dark sedan because investigators were uncertain from the images.

The church holds a Bible study class every Wednesday evening.

The gunman was in the church about 8 p.m. and apparently sat down, Mullen told reporters, based on information from a witness who was there and was unharmed. The witness told authorities that the gunman let her live so she could tell her story.

“He was in the church about an hour before the actual deaths,” Mullen said.

About 9 p.m., the gunman opened fire.

Little has been announced about the dead to allow time for families to be notified, but Mullen said there were six females and three males. Eight died at the church and one died after being rushed to a hospital.

Earlier reports said another person was injured and being treated, but Mullen said that was wrong.

One of the dead was identified as pastor and state Sen. Clementa Pinckney. Pinckney, 41, was a married father of two who was first elected when he was 23 years old.

Emmanuel AME church traces its roots to 1816, when several churches split from Charleston’s Methodist Episcopal church. One of its founders, Denmark Vesey, tried to organize a slave revolt in 1822. He was caught, and white landowners had his church burned in revenge.

Parishioners worshipped underground until after the Civil War.

“Of all cities, in Charleston, to have a horrible hateful person go into the church and kill people there to pray and worship with each other is something that is beyond any comprehension and is not explained,” Riley said.

The attack came two months after the fatal shooting of Walter Scott, an unarmed black man, by a white police officer in neighboring North Charleston, which sparked protests and highlighted racial tensions in the area. The officer has been charged with murder, and the shooting prompted South Carolina lawmakers to push through a bill helping all police agencies in the state get body cameras.

Pinckney, the slain pastor, was a sponsor of that bill.

(c)2015 Los Angeles Times. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Photo: From foreground to back: Emmanuel A.M.E., Citadel Square Baptist and St. Matthew’s Lutheran. (Micha A. Ponce/Flickr)

This story is developing.

  • AgLander

    CNN is already jumping the conclusion as it keeps playing up the theme of white on black racial based “hate crime”. No mention of the very real possibility that we are facing a hate crime targeting religion and people of Christian faith.

    • Timmi

      OR maybe he chose a church because he knew that the people there were most likely passive and unarmed. That the homies at a basketball court would probably shoot back. Stop bein a phony martyr. It’s unbecoming.

      • Eleanore Whitaker

        SC is a big time gun running state. Why is it ONLY the red Confederates need so many guns for “protection” and we up north manage to live entire lifetimes with not a gun in sight?

        I am not fooled by the BS. They need these guns more in the south and midwest to protect themselves from having to admit they are bigots. The only excuses for arming themselves like Rambo is their fear of blacks.

        Why the hell else do you think they sell most of their guns up north in the biggest inner cities where they know black males are fascinated by guns? Did SC run out of gun customers and now the northern states are prime targets for their gun running?


    Or, perhaps, just another young white male diagnosed as ADHD on antidepressants gone stark raving mad, like “all” the school shootings.

    • Eleanore Whitaker

      Or a father whose every word out of his racist mouth was “N” this and “N” that. Don’t tell me that isn’t part of it.

      • DEFENDER88

        Probably to More than Likely.
        Its not as bad as in the past but they are still out there.
        As for the comments about there being too many guns out there.
        Seems to me – there were not enough guns “here”.

        • Eleanore Whitaker

          I have southern and western relatives. Do you really want to know what they fear most? They arm themselves to the teeth in fear of black men who might break in and harm them or their families. I got this straight from one of my bigoted relatives mouths who lives in NC.

          Your post is in error. If the people in that black church were ALL armed to the teeth like Rambo, it would be the white boys down in SC who would be the first to make sure they were disarmed. Who is fooling whom?

          There are too many guns in inner cities. Last month 3 good ole good ole Georgia gun runners were caught bringing guns into NY City. One of them had been running guns in areas of NY City that has the greatest number of blacks for 17 years until he got thrown in prison.

          Is it a coincidence that the GOP House and Senate ALL voted to reduce funding to ATF who monitors gun running across state lines? How isn’t that a wink wink nod nod to gun manufacturing billionaires 5 of whom are in RED states?

          And let’s stop pretending why these GA gun runners are coming north more and more often…illegally. Because they are attempting to claim they can sell guns according to that BS red state mantra “States Rights”….so while they use states’ rights to sell guns in other states, they are violating states rights of states they are selling their guns in.

          • DEFENDER88

            I do Church security (volunteer) at our church.

            I was asked to by the church.

            I always be sure to take my gun, concealed as it should be.

            I was walking the hall the other day, passing the pastor, he said to me – “I sure do feel a lot safer knowing you are out here”.

            I am highly trained in self defense and gun defense, even more than police since I help(as a volunteer) train them in shooting.

            The fact remains – if all or even a few of the people in that meeting had been armed, fewer “good” people would have been killed.

            And – this racist bastard would be dead and gone.

            Not a “good” trade to loose “any” good people on this bastard but better then loosing so many.

            As for the South being Racist, maybe we should send them up North, with you, for some training in good race relations – I am thinking send them to Ferguson or maybe Baltimore – oh wait!

            We are not going to get rid of guns in this country.

            That is just the reality of it.


            Again – if everyone in the room had a gun, fewer “good” people would have been killed.

            It damn sure would not have been worse than it was – ie “every” good person was killed.

            Gun control, as you advocate it, is just not working. In fact it is getting good people killed.

            The best defense against a terrorist with a gun, for now, is a trained defender with a gun.

          • Eleanore Whitaker

            Your post is so typical of the excuses from red state people we up north hear all the time. You cannot allow every citizen to be armed for the very reason the 9 people in SC are dead…some of you armed are not mentally balanced. The NRA refuses to insist on mental health testing before anyone can own a gun. And, you can drop the excuse gun control isn’t working. In the last 20 years, gun manufacturing has increased production of guns by 100%. Why? Profit.

            If guns, oil, fracking and drilling are all red states have to produce their state revenues, that explains why salaries in red states are drop dead low and can’t be remotely called, “Living Wages.”

            I don’t know who you gun addicts think you are fooling. But, behind your insecure need for more protection than the US military has, is bigotry. Why are red states always in need of more protection than some very overcrowded, multinational blue states?

            Tell you what. I dare you to go on an overcrowded NY City subway on a very hot summer day armed to the teeth and see how fast you end up in the clink.

          • DEFENDER88

            You don’t have to tell me s*it about NY.
            I have been on the “L” plenty of times and cabs, limos, and walking all over day and night.
            From the lower end docks and Wall St to the Bronx and East Side to West including Harlem and the Boroughs.
            And Jersey and Conn.
            And Chi, Detroit, Milwaukee, Phily, Cleveland, Boston, DC, LA, etal. and more.
            I know NY and the North.
            ps You can take your NY Subway and shove it ………

            But I also know Birmingham, Atlanta, Nashville, Columbia SC, Tallahassee, Jackson Miss, etal
            ie The South

            You, on the other hand, don’t seem to know much about the South, as it is now.
            Calling everyone there and all gun owners racists.

            So – “Tell you what” – In this North – v – South game of yours – I “call” you a NY Subway, and “raise” you an Appalachian Mtn.
            And “dare you” to go into the mountains where I have been without a gun and see how fast you end up wanting to carry a gun.

            I finally see now why you call all southern gun owners racist.
            Your southern relatives “are” racists. And have guns because they are afraid of Black People.

            You are trying to compensate for that unfortunate fact.
            And way over-compensating and extrapolating for this unfortunate situation you are dealing with.
            Instead of calling every one in the south racists you should consider dealing with your relatives and probably some counseling for yourself.
            You have been playing the shill on gun control and race relations.

            The behavior and beliefs of your relatives is not normal in the south. Not now anyway.
            You may know NYC but you really don’t actually know much about the south “as it is today”.

          • Eleanore Whitaker

            You ASSume I don’t know anything about the south? No? Do ex’s grandmother was a half Seminole, half Irish, sharecropper born in Georgia. My nieces and nephews live in North Carolina, Florida and Texas…Drop the Know it All act.

            You only know what you WANT to know. And worse, with this mentality, ramming what YOU know down everyone else’s throat is your idea of “opinion.”

            My ex’s grandmother was a sharecropper on a GA plantation for a few decades before the family moved to Sopchoppy and Carabelle, Florida.

            You want to tell me what she told me about white sharecroppers is a lie?

            Roof’s old man bought him that gun. He, like Nancy Lanza, knew their kids were trouble mentally. Make all the excuses you like. But, you will NEVER change my mind about the southern and midwestern bigots.

            SC wouldn’t have allowed more black gun owners and you know it. You just can’t admit it. It’s the reason when you see videos of NRA meetings and gun shows, 99% of those attending are middle aged white males all drooling over AK 47 they must must must have. Try again…lame excuses for “protecting” yourself is just pure BS.

          • DEFENDER88

            You really are self-righteous and myopic and you have not lived the southern experience.

            You need to crawl down of that high horse you have created/rationalized for yourself.

            You are extrapolating(guessing/assuming) from limited information and not 1st hand knowledge.

            You are ranting about things and people you have not experienced in a region you don’t really personally know.

            You are basing your thoughts on the South mostly on 2nd-hand information from older relatives who lived in a time when racism was indeed endemic in the south. The south has changed a lot in the last say 50 years.

            Unlike you – I have, “personally” seen and experienced it.

            When I was young, I saw the separate water fountains, separate rest-rooms.

            You don’t remember

            – Actual slavery

            – The hangings based on just the “word” of a white woman

            – Gov Wallace – “I” saw this.

            – The marches, fire hoses, beatings – “I” saw this.

            – Overt discrimination – “I” saw this.

            The south has come a long way since then.

            Racism still exists in the south, but mostly in “red necks” but not like it was.

            Even “I” have been attacked and shot-at by “red necks”, not unlike Roof.

            3-4 times actually.

            So, I have never been attacked by a Black man but have by some whites.

            Ignorant Red-Neck m*f**ers.

            In fact, that is “one” of the reasons I now carry a gun.

            Its called “Self” Defense.

            So – you telling me I want a gun because I am a racist is just Ignorance at its worst.

            Or telling me I don’t need one for any reason.

            My dad personally knew MLK. ps we are white.

            The “South” (overall) has come a long way since then.

            That is not to say there are not some and some areas where it still does exist but it is much better now.

            It is not where it needs to be but is much better then it was.

            In fact, if you consider Ferguson and Baltimore, one could argue it is even better now in the south then the north.

            Condemning everyone in the south as racist on the act of one deranged avowed racist, may be convenient for your agenda but is not logical nor have a basis in fact.

            There will always be racists. I imagine there are plenty even in NYC. I saw some anyway.

            And the simple fact remains – In this case, if all the “good” people in the room had a gun, fewer(good people) would have been killed.

            An inconvenient truth:

            Yes guns can kill – but they “can” also save lives.

  • Eleanore Whitaker

    No matter what any of you post, this white male shooter is one of you. This means that someone taught him hatred. My guess is that in a state like SC, it was Big Daddy who has domain over wife, kids, the dog, the cat, the Bully Boy pick up and the Stars and Bars that hang from the truck bed.

    You guys really need to do some very deep soul searching into your own culpability for your militant attitudes. How many more innocent people have to be shot dead for no reason other than the color of their skin in these assinine bigot states before you so called “men” stop looking for excuses for the hateful warrior behavior of your gender?

    Enough with the excuses.

  • Eleanore Whitaker

    The part I love about the excuse for playing Rambo? “Protection.” This, from the biggest bunch of male bullies no other generation has had to endure.

    So..are these really bullies with big mouths? Or just a bunch of rabble rouser weinies?