A gunman opened fire Wednesday evening at a Black church in downtown Charleston, S.C., before fleeing.
According to local media, the mass shooting resulted in several fatalities, and authorities say a bomb threat has been called in at the scene.
MORE: Pastor of Charleston church is State Sen. Clementa Pinckney who police said was shot, along with his sister. Via @ABCNews4
— WSOCTV (@wsoctv) June 18, 2015
The shooting took place at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, one of the nation’s oldest Black churches, around 9pm ET.
The congregation was formed after black members of the Methodist Episcopal Church in the city broke away “over disputed burial ground,” according to the website of the National Park Service. In 1822, one of the church’s co-founders tried to foment a slave rebellion in Charleston, the church’s website says. The plot was foiled by authorities and 35 people were executed.
The church houses the oldest black congregation south of Baltimore, the Park Service said.
The gunman, believed to be a 21-year-old white man, is still at large.
police describe the gunman as white male, grey sweatshirt, blue jeans, slight build, possibly 21.
— Victoria Hansen (@VHansenSCRadio) June 18, 2015
Officials have yet to release any more information about the victims.
Story developing… We’ll keep you posted.
Update: Here’s what we know so far – via CNN
— Nine people died in the church shooting. Eight died at the scene; a ninth at a hospital.
— There are survivors, said Charleston Police Chief Greg Mullen. But he wouldn’t say how many. “We are not going to talk about specific numbers.”
— “He obviously is extremely dangerous,” Mullen said of the shooter. “We will put all our resources, we will put all of our energy in finding this individual.”
— “People in prayer Wednesday evening, a ritual, coming together, praying, worshiping God. An awful person comes in and shoots them is inexplicable. Obviously the most intolerable and unbelievable act possible,” said Charleston Mayor Joe Riley.
— The incident is being called a hate crime. “The only reason someone would walk into a church and shoot people that were praying is hate,” said Mayor Joe Riley.
— Rosemary Church (@rosemaryCNN) June 18, 2015
Rev. Clements Pinckney, a SC legislator is among the 9 killed in SC church. I am reminded that he helped lead our prayer vigil for Scott.
— Reverend Al Sharpton (@TheRevAl) June 18, 2015