Charleston, SC (JFK+50) Today for the first time in the life of our blog, we post on an event that unfortunately occurred last night while we were in Charleston visiting our daughter. We were sitting at the window in Starbucks in the Francis Marion Hotel when shortly after 9 p.m. eight city police vehicles went by with sirens blaring.
We saw that they were all stopping a block away at the junction of Calhoun and Meeting Streets. We walked across Calhoun Street and went up to our daughter's apartment where I tuned in to the scanner feed for the Charleston Fire and Rescue Department.
We learned, less than a half-hour after the event, that 8 people were dead by gunshots and the shooter was at large. For the next 3 hours we kept up with news reports as we could hear the police helicopters over our roof. Then, they announced that all media was being moved down just outside our door to the intersection of King & Calhoun because there had been a bomb threat at the Marriott across the street from the church where people had been shot.
This morning we walked down to the intersection of Calhoun & Meeting Streets where all the media were set up. We talked with some of the media and observed first hand the coverage that takes place when unfortunate events like this occur.
This event has received national and worldwide attention and President Barack Obama spoke about it before the press this morning.
According to The Post and Courier, "nine people were shot to death during a prayer meeting inside of one of Charleston's oldest and most well-known black churches...in one of the worst mass shootings in South Carolina's history."
The shooter went into Emanuel AME Church* located at 110 Calhoun Street about 8 p.m. and sat down with a small group of members who were having Bible study. After an hour, he pulled out a .45 hand gun and said he was there to shoot black people who were, in his words, "raping our women and taking over the country."
Eight victims died at the scene and one later at the hospital. Six of the victims were women and three were male. One of the victims was the church pastor, Clementa Pinckney, who was also a South Carolina State Senator.
The good news that came in after the morning paper is that the shooter has been identified and, thanks to the tip of a citizen, has been taken into custody fourteen hours after the shootings in Shelby, North Carolina.
JFK+50 sends out our deepest sympathies and prayers for the families of the victims of this horrible crime. Hopefully justice will be served and some actions can be taken to prevent a recurrence of this type of tragedy.
During the civil rights unrest of the early 1960s, President John F. Kennedy said...
"If these...tragic events can only awake this...Nation to a realization of the folly of racial...hatred and violence, then it is not too late...to unite...in steps toward peaceful progress."
*Emanuel AME Church is the 2nd oldest AME church in the United States. It is known as 'Mother Emanuel' because it is the oldest AME church located in the South. It was founded by Morris Brown in 1816.
A founding member of the church, Denmark Vesey, led a slave revolt in 1822 which drove the church underground for many years. The church reorganized at the end of the Civil War.
"Church attack kills 9, Manhunt on for suspect after 'hate crime' shooting at Emanuel AME," by Glen Smith, Robert Behre and Melissa Boughton, The Post and Courier, Charleston, South Carolina, June 18, 2015.
"Historic church suffers a new horrific chapter," by Jennifer Barry Hawes, The Post and Courier, Charleston, South Carolina, June 18, 2015.
Emanuel AME Church
NBC TV Coverage of Shootings