Washington, June 18: An unidentified gunman in his early 20s killed nine people at a renowned black church in downtown Charleston, South Carolina, late on Wednesday, police said.
While eight persons died inside the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, two were taken to the hospital out of whom one died after the gunman entered and opened fire during a prayer.
Charleston police chief Gregory Mullen and Charleston Mayor Joe Riley said it was a hate crime. The shooter was at large. He was reportedly wearing a gray sweatshirt and blue jeans. Police presence was increased following the incident.
The 19th-century church was once burned to the ground over some dispute but was rebuilt later.
Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush called off a scheduled town hall in Charleston on Thursday because of the tragic event.