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Cred – [CNN]:

The shooting victims at Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church “were killed because they were black,” Charleston police spokesman Charles Francis told CNN’s Nick Valencia on Thursday. Francis said this after Valencia asked them what is leading authorities to investigate the shooting as a hate crime.

• A woman who survived the shooting says the gunman said he was letting her live so that she could tell people what happened, Charleston NAACP President Dot Scott told CNN.

• The gunman was there for about an hour, attending a meeting with the eventual victims, before he began shooting, Charleston police Chief Greg Mullen said Thursday morning.

• The suspect is in his early 20s and stands 5 feet, 9 inches tall. “He has on a very distinctive sweatshirt as well as the vehicle, with a very distinctive license plate,” the police chief said.

[Full story]

He didn’t start shooting right away.

The white man spent an hour in a prayer meeting at the historic African-American church in Charleston, South Carolina, on Wednesday night before he opened fire, Charleston police Chief Greg Mullen said Thursday morning.

Nine people were killed — six females and three males, Mullen said. Three people survived, including a woman who received a chilling message from the shooter.

“Her life was spared, and (she was) told, I’m not going to kill you, I’m going to spare you, so you can tell them what happened,” Charleston NAACP President Dot Scott told CNN. Scott said she heard this from the victims’ family members.

The suspect was still at large Thursday as law enforcement officers combed the region.

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