Charleston, South Carolina is waking up to a nightmare this morning, after a white gunman shot and killed nine people at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, one of the oldest historically black churches in the United States. A five-year-old girl is reportedly recovering this morning after surviving the attack by playing dead.
The gunman, described as a slender white male between 20 and 25, is still at large. According to reports, he sat in a prayer meeting for about an hour before standing up and opening fire on the congregation. Among the dead is Reverend Clementa C. Pinckney, the church’s pastor and a South Carolina State Senator. According to ABC 4, six of the victims were women and three were men. The massacre is being investigated as a hate crime.
Family members also told ABC that a child present during the shooting survived by playing dead. A WSCIV reporter says the child is recovering at a local hospital today:
Among the saddest tributes to the victims last night came from Solange Knowles, who asked, plaintively, “Where can we be black?”
There are no words.
Worshippers embrace after a prayer circle across the street from the Emanuel AME Church. Photo via AP Images