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Charleston church shooting: 9 killed in what officials call a hate crime

• A woman who survived the shooting says the gunman said he was letting her live so that she could tell people what happened, Charleston NAACP President Dot Scott told CNN.
• The person who shot and killed nine people at Charleston's Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church was there for about an hour, attending a meeting with the eventual victims, before he began shooting, Charleston police Chief Greg Mullen said Thursday morning.
• The suspect is in his early 20s and stands 5 feet, 9 inches tall. "He has on a very distinctive sweatshirt as well as the vehicle, with a very distinctive license plate," the police chief said.

He didn't start shooting right away, police said.
    The white man spent an hour in a prayer meeting at the historic African-American church in Charleston, South Carolina, on Wednesday night before he opened fire, killing nine people, Charleston police Chief Greg Mullen said Thursday morning.
    Then the man escaped onto the streets of the city's historic downtown, an area normally jammed with tourists. He was still at large Thursday morning as an army of law enforcement officers combed the region.

    Mullen said he considers the shooting at the oldest AME church in the South a hate crime -- a designation that would allow federal prosecution.
    "The only reason someone would walk into a church and shoot people that were praying is hate," Charleston Mayor Joe Riley said.

    Eight churchgoers died at the scene; a ninth at a hospital, police said. Among them is the pastor of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, South Carolina state Sen. Kent Williams told CNN. He's a cousin of Pinckney's, who was also a state senator.

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