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UPDATE: 7:45 AM EST

The NAACP has released a statement in the wake of the AME shooting that left nine dead in Charleston.

From Cornell William Brooks, NAACP President & CEO:

The NAACP was founded to fight against racial hatred and we are outraged that 106 years later, we are faced today with another mass hate crime.  Our heartfelt prayers and soul-deep condolences go out to the families and community of the victims at Charleston’s historic Emanuel AME Church.  The senselessly slain parishioners were in a church for Wednesday night bible study. There is no greater coward than a criminal who enters a house of God and slaughters innocent people engaged in the study of scripture.  Today I mourn as an AME minister, as a student and teacher of scripture, as well as a member of the NAACP. 

The NAACP South Carolina State Conference and Charleston Branch have been working on the ground—with police and the community to bring this case to a close.  We remain vigilant while the local police and FBI investigate this hate crime and bring the shooter to justice.

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UPDATE: Thursday June 18, 2015 

Police have confirmed that eight people were killed inside Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church Wednesday night after a gunman described as a 21-year-old White male entered the house of worship, sat through part of a prayer meeting and opened fire.

A ninth victim died at a nearby hospital, Charleston’s Police Chief Greg Mullen said during a morning press conference.

While no information has been released about the victims, House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford said that South Carolina state senator and the church’s pastor, Clementa Pinckney, is among the dead.

The shooting, described by the Washington Post as one of the worst attacks on a place of worship in the nation in decades, is being investigated as a hate crime.

Police are still searching for the suspect, who is said to have attended the prayer meeting for about an hour before shooting his victims. Three people survived the shooting, including a woman the suspect left alive to tell the story and a 5-year-old who played dead when the shooting began.

The fatalities include three males and six females.

“This tragedy that we’re addressing right now is undescribable,” Mullen said. “The law enforcement agencies that are working on this are committed and we will capture this individual.”

According to the Post and Courier, a family assistance center was established for families of the victims. No names have been released as of Thursday morning.

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Police in Charleston, South Carolina are investigating a shooting at a downtown church, USA Today reports.

It’s unclear if there are any fatalities.

The shooting occurred around 9 p.m. at an address that corresponds with the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, the site writes. Police say the suspected gunman is still on the loose, the Charleston Post and Courier reports. The suspect is described as a white male, about 21-years-old.

Police have yet to release any information about the victims.

This is a developing story.

SOURCE: USA Today, Twitter | PHOTO CREDIT: Twitter

 

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