South Carolina State Sen. Clementa Pinckney (below) was among the nine people assassinated tonight in what appears to be a hate crime at the Emanuel AME Church, a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina.
The police described the gunman as a clean-shaven white man about 21 years-old who was wearing a gray sweatshirt, bluejeans and Timberland boots.
Around 10:45 p.m., police officers at the scene drew their weapons and later escorted a man in handcuffs, who appeared to match that description. But officials said later that they were still searching for the gunman.
Already, people in the community are trying to make sense of a senseless crime:
I’ll post updates as possible. But I can say this right now: Whether this was anti-black or anti-Christian or just plain random, it’s a despicable act and a tragedy all-around. My thoughts are with the victims and their families, and I hope yours are as well.
***Update*** (10:04a): The Center for Inquiry has issued this statement:
In our day to day lives, it can be difficult to recognize the common humanity of those who are different from us, those who disagree with us, or those with whom we have little shared experience. In times of tragedy like this, with the senseless loss of nine of our fellow human beings in Charleston, those differences quickly evaporate into meaninglessness, and what we share in common shines brightly against the darkness. It is frustrating that it so often takes heartbreaking events such as this act of terror to make clear what unites us.
The victims of the shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church sought wisdom, strength, and community in a different way than those of us at the Center for Inquiry might. But regardless of our differing beliefs, these nine women and men were on the same journey as all of us, navigating our way through this life as best we can, weathering setbacks, celebrating triumphs, and trying to do so with kindness.
***Update*** (12:13p): The American Humanist Association has issued this statement:
In its focus on our shared humanity and respect for human dignity, humanism condemns such acts of brutal violence. Humanists stand in solidarity with religious and non-religious communities to condemn hate in all forms, and we hope that this tragedy will result in immediate action by local and national governments to end gun violence and hate crimes in this country.