By Daniela Morales
Late Wednesday night a white male of about 21-years of age shot and killed nine people attending a bible study session at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. He was later arrested in Shelby, North Carolina, almost four hours away from the scene of the shooting due to suspicious activity that prompted authorities to make a traffic stop.
The church cameras show the shooter entering the church at 8:16 p.m. It’s reported that he attended the bible study session for about an hour before shooting and killing nine people; six women and three men, including the Reverend of the church and South Carolina Senator, Clementa C. Pinckney. The shooting was reported to authorities at 9:05 p.m.
Eight of the victims died at the scene and one, later, at the hospital.
Survivor of the shooting told reporters that during the massacre the terrorist reloaded five times and ignored the pleas of Reverend Pinckney to reconsider killing the worshippers.
According to a survivor, the terrorist shouted in-between reloads, “I have to do it. You rape our women and you’re taking over our country, – and you have to go.”
Charleston Mayor Joseph Riley Jr. called the shooting a “heartbreaking tragedy.”
“It’s a prayer service and a bible service, and they’re speaking about the Holy Scriptures and praying, and then someone sitting there [is] contemplating the act of murder,” said Riley.
Democratic candidate for presidency Hillary Clinton had held an event earlier that Wednesday in North Charleston and on early Thursday morning communicated through twitter, “Heartbreaking news from Charleston – my thoughts and prayers are with you all.”
Republican candidate for presidency Jeb Bush was scheduled to have a town-hall style meeting at the Charleston Maritime Center this Thursday but canceled it and offered the city the space the campaign had leased.
His spokeswoman, Allie Brandenburger said in a statement, “Governor Bush’s thoughts and prayers are with the individuals and families affected by this tragedy.”
This shooting, being formally investigated by the U.S Justice Department as a hate crime, arose talk of the gun violence our country has yet to deal with.
Mayor Riley believes “there are far too many guns out there. And access to guns is far too easy. Our society has not been able to deal with that yet.”
President Obama also spoke of the “senseless crime” committed in “a place where we seek solace and we seek peace, in a place of worship.”
He said, “communities have had to endure things like these too many times…because, in part, someone who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a gun.”
Emanuel A ME Church is a church that has stood throughout history, even when it was burned down because its worshippers worked to end slavery. This church served as a place for blacks to congregate when there were laws prohibiting all black church gatherings. Now a prayer circle convened about three blocks from the site of the shooting and members of the African-American religious community gathered near the church in a show of solidarity for the nine victims of a hate crime.