No Place Safe? Gunman Kills 9 in Black Southern Church

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Another cowardly act of pure hate was carried out by a white gunman in a historic southern black church, killing 9 parishioners, 3 men, six women, on Wednesday night in Charleston South Carolina.

The Huffingtonpost reports that the gunman entered the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church during a weekly bible study meeting and opened fire around 9 p.m., police said. Eight people were found dead at the scene. Two others were transported to a hospital, where one later died.

“The only reason someone could walk into a church and shoot people praying is out of hate,” said Charleston Mayor Joe Riley, speaking at the same news conference. “It is the most dastardly act that one could possibly imagine.”

 Reverend Clementa Pinckney (South Carolina Legislative Services Agency)Six women and three men were murdered. None of the victims has yet been named by police, but State House Minority leader Todd Rutherford told the Associated Press that the church’s pastor, state Sen. Clementa Pinckney, was among the dead.

Worshippers gather to pray in a hotel parking lot across the street from the Emanuel AME Church following a shooting Wednesday, June 17, 2015, in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Worshippers gather to pray in a hotel parking lot across the street from the Emanuel AME Church following a shooting Wednesday, June 17, 2015, in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

The Department of Justice, FBI and US Attorney’s Office are launching a hate crime investigation into the killings.

The suspect is still at large. Police described the gunman as a white male, 21 to 25 years old, 5 foot 9 inches tall and a slender build. He’s clean shaven with sandy blond hair that is shaped in a bowl cut, and was last seen wearing a gray sweatshirt, blue jeans and Timberland boots.

Early Thursday, police released this image of the suspect, and said that they believe he is still in the area.

Charleston Police Chief Greg Mullen said the gunman was spotted in a black sedan with a unique license plate, but did not release a make or model of the vehicle. He urged the public and media to remain vigilant, be aware of their surroundings and to contact law enforcement if they see anything suspicious.

A reward will be offered, with the amount to be announced later Thursday.

Cornell William Brooks, the president and CEO of the NAACP as well as an AME minister, released a statement on Thursday in which he expressed outrage about the “mass hate crime.”

“The senselessly slain parishioners were in a church for Wednesday night bible study,” Brooks stated. “There is no greater coward than a criminal who enters a house of God and slaughters innocent people engaged in the study of scripture.”

As police searched for the shooter, worshippers and other members of the community gathered to mourn and pray.

My question is, when will this madness stop? Isn’t it ironic that as of late, African-Americans have been targeted for media headline fodder? Is there an element in the background at play, systematically setting up the extinction of the black race? After many days of pandering to the sensationalized news stories involving race like Rachel Dolezal, have we let the hate mongers use race as another excuse to commit reprehensible acts against humanity? I sense that we are about to enter a new ugly phase of racial division, if left unchecked by the American people.

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