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Nine Killed in Hate Crime at Black Church

9 dead in ‘hate crime’ shooting at historic African American church in Charleston

Police widened the search Thursday for a gunman who opened fire and killed nine people during a prayer service at a historic African American church in downtown Charleston, in one of the worst attacks on a place of worship in the United States in recent memory. At least one other person was injured in the Wednesday night assault, which began about an hour after the assailant entered the church and observed the service, authorities said. “We believe this is a hate crime; that is how we are investigating it,” Charleston Police Chief Greg Mullen said at a dawn news conference.

Officers in fatigues, some with dogs, said they were searching “near and far” for the gunman, described as a clean-shaven White male in his early 20s with sandy blond hair and a slight build. Police said he was wearing a gray sweatshirt, blue jeans and Timberland boots. He is believed to be the only shooter.

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