Nine people are dead after a gunman barged into the Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC, killing them as they attended Bible study
The shooting took place at about 9 p.m. ET on Wednesday. Charleston Police released photos of the suspect during a news conference that started at 6 a.m. ET Thursday, and said he left the scene in a black four door sedan. He is described as "armed and dangerous."
Church members were shot as they took part in shot at bible study, the NAACP said. Dot Scott, president of the Charleston NAACP, said a female survivor told family members that the gunman initially sat down in the church for a while before opening fire, the Post and Courier reported. Scott added that the gunman reportedly told the woman he was letting her live so she could tell others what happened.
Among the dead was the state senator who was pastor of the church, Democrat Clementa Pinckney, said South Carolina House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford, the Associated Press reported. Pinckney, 41, was married with two children and had served in the state Senate since 2000, according to online biographies.
While officials are declaring the act a hate crime, that really doesn't go far enough. This was a blatant act of domestic terrorism. But considering that the suspect is a 21 year old white man:
We have already begun seeing the usual refrain of how we are looking at the actions of a "lone wolf" whose mindset and intent are unknowable. From the statement by SC Governor Nikki Hailey:
While we do not yet know all of the details, we do know that we’ll never understand what motivates anyone to enter one of our places of worship and take the life of another.
It saddens me to read about such a horrifying act committed so openly and coldly. And it really infuriates me to hear the arguments that this is somehow an incomprehensible act. Considering that he intentionally left a survivor to tell people about what happened, we have a perfectly serviceable term for this act.
This was an act of domestic terrorism. And if you don't understand why someone would feel the need to terrorize the black community, the history of the US has many, many events that help explain why, to this day.
In closing, here is the response from the head of the NAACP:
The NAACP was founded to fight against racial hatred and we are outraged that 106 years later, we are faced today with another mass hate crime. Our heartfelt prayers and soul-deep condolences go out to the families and community of the victims at Charleston’s historic Emanuel AME Church. The senselessly slain parishioners were in a church for Wednesday night bible study. There is no greater coward than a criminal who enters a house of God and slaughters innocent people engaged in the study of scripture. Today I mourn as an AME minister, as a student and teacher of scripture, as well as a member of the NAACP.