Update 11:46 pm: Police are saying that the mass shooting in South Carolina has led to multiple fatalities. Witnesses are also reporting that the bodies have not been identified. The mayor and police chief of Charleston, SC are expected to hold press conferences soon to clear up information for the public.
Corey Wessenger, standing near the church at the time of the incident, says that there are officers all over the area.
“I just saw a group of about 40 people escorted by cops,” Wessenger told CNN by phone.
USA Today is reporting that police are investigating a shooting that has led to multiple fatalities in the Charleston, South Carolina area. According to social media sources, there have been multiple deaths in the shooting, but this information has yet to be confirmed with law enforcement.
South Carolina Rep. Peter McCoy tweeted that nine people died in the shooting, which occurred at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. The church is the oldest AME church in the South and is led by South Carolina State Sen. Clementa Pinckney. It is also one of the oldest and largest black congregations in the city of Baltimore.
One of the founders of the church was Denmark Vessey, who was executed for attempting a slave revolt. According to Twitter statements by Charleston Police, the shooting took place at 9 pm EST. The gunman is currently on the loose as well. He is believed to be a white male, about 21 years old, wearing a gray sweatshirt or hoodie with jeans.
The FBI has arrived on the scene as well, according to Post and Courier reporter Melissa Boughton. Emergency medical workers are warning residents to drive away or stay indoors.
“It’s really bad. It’s a very bad scene,” pastor Thomas Dixon said.
“Apparently the person just entered the church and opened fire. That part has not been fully articulated on what happened yet … they are still looking for the suspect.”