Charleston Police are asking for help identifying a man that they believe is responsible for a church shooting that occurred Wednesday evening.
According to CNN, a White male walked into the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in South Carolina and opened fire on worshipers who gathered in the sanctuary for Bible study.
Eight people were found dead in the church. Emergency responders transported two other victims to a nearby hospital; one died at the medical center. Among the victims was Emanuel A.M.E. Pastor and state Senator Clementa Pinckney. Authorities would not disclose how many churchgoers were present during the shooting but it was noted that there are survivors.
Thursday, investigators released a photo of the suspected gunman who is said to be a White male in his early 20s. He is approximately 5’9, “has a slender build” and sandy blond hair. Authorities are asking for the help of anyone who might be able to identify the alleged shooter.
“He obviously is extremely dangerous,” Charleston Police Chief Greg Mullen. “This is a situation that is unacceptable in any society, and especially in our society and our city.”
“This is an all-hands-on-deck effort with the community as well as law enforcement,” Mullen continued. “When people go out, they should be vigilant, they should be aware of their surroundings. And if they see anything suspicious, they should call law enforcement.”
The mass shooting, which many are calling an act of terrorism, is being investigated as a hate crime. Charleston Mayor Joe Riley said that the city is offering a reward to anyone with information leading to the unidentified suspect’s arrest.
“The only reason someone would walk into a church and shoot people that were praying is hate,” Riley said. “People in prayer Wednesday evening. A ritual, a coming together, praying, worshiping God. An awful person to come in and shoot them is inexplicable.”
We send our prayers to all of those affected by this terrible tragedy.