Fatal Shooting at Historic African-American Church Leaves Nine Dead

Members of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church console each other after a fatal shooting.

Members of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church console each other after a fatal shooting.

Racism is deeply ingrained in the history of South Carolina. From slave codes to the refusal, until 2000, to remove the Confederate Flag from the State House, South Carolina has proven time and time again that they still don’t believe the Civil War is over, or that the Confederate south lost. On Wednesday night at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina that racism once again reared its ugly face.

The shooting occurred during a prayer meeting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, the oldest AME church in the south. The shooting left nine dead, including state Sen. Clementa Pinckney who was also a pastor at the church.

The suspect, an unidentified white male in his twenties, attended the meeting at the church Wednesday night and stayed for nearly an hour before the shooting. He is still at large, and police have an image they are passing around of the man and his getaway vehicle.

An image of the suspect in the fatal church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina and his getaway vehicle

An image of the suspect in the fatal church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina and his getaway vehicle

Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church was formed in 1816 when African-American members of Charleston’s Methodist Episcopal Church formed their own congregation after a dispute over burial grounds. Six years later, one of the church founders was implicated in a slave revolt plot. He was not convicted. During the case, the church was burned to the ground. It was rebuilt in 1834.

Police are calling the shooting a hate crime.

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