Last night a gunman opened fire in a historic black Charleston, S.C. church, killing at least nine people—including the church’s pastor, state senator Clementa Pinckney. The suspect, a white male in his early 20s, is still at large. Here’s everything we know about the situation so far.
Police say the suspect, pictured in the surveillance photograph above, sat in on a prayer group at the Emanuel AME Church for at least an hour before initiating the shooting.
At least nine people—six women and three men—were killed in the mayhem. That count reportedly includes State Sen. Clementa Pinckney, who also acted as the church’s pastor. According to an NAACP official interviewed by the Post and Courier, the shooter told one female survivor “he was letting her live so she could tell everyone else what happened.”
Local police, assisted by sheriff’s deputies and the FBI, are currently searching for the man, who they’ve described as a blond, white male, between 21 and 25 years old, clad in a sweatshirt, jeans, and Timberland boots.
According to the Post and Courier, at least one man who “fit the description” carrying a camera was briefly detained at a gas station near the church Wednesday but was ultimately released.
We’ll update this post with more information, and use the below live blog to push breaking updates.
Update 9:25 a.m.
According to CNN, two of the three survivors were unharmed. ABC News says one victim, a five-year-old girl, apparently survived the shooting by “playing dead.” She is reportedly recovering at the Medical University of South Carolina hospital.
Update 10:20 a.m.
mugshot of suspect 21 year-old Dylann Storm Roof from prior arrest this year pic.twitter.com/IoY2rqxccFJune 18, 2015
The photograph of Roof currently circulating was pulled from a Facebook page listed under his name. On his jacket is what appears to be two flags related to white power: one from apartheid-era South Africa, and another from Rhodesia.
Second flag on Dylann Roof's jacket appears to be that of white-rule Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe pic.twitter.com/js2IpiP8ZNJune 18, 2015
Update 10:35 a.m.
Roof’s car has reportedly been identified by police as a black Hyundai with the license plate LGF330.
Update 11:30 a.m.
Roof’s uncle says he got a gun as a 21st birthday gift in April, though it’s not clear whether that was the same gun used in the attack. Former classmates also say Roof was into abusing prescription drugs and “made a lot of racist jokes” in high school.