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A Caucasian male in his early 20s opened fire during a prayer meeting inside of a historic black church in downtown Charleston, SC. As a result nine people were murdered, including the pastor, state Sen. Clementa Pinckney.

Authorities are calling the assault a hate crime and as of Thursday morning the culprit is still on the loose.  Police Chief Greg Mullen said the officers thought they had the suspect tracked with a police dog, but he got away.

The FBI will aid in the investigation.  The attack came two months after the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man, Walter Scott, by a white police officer in North Charleston that sparked major protests and highlighted racial tensions in the area.

The officer has been charged with murder, and the shooting prompted South Carolina lawmakers to push through a bill helping all police agencies in the state get body cameras. Pinckney was a sponsor of that bill.

Christopher Cason, who is a community organizer said he felt certain the shootings were racially motivated.

 

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