A South Carolina legislative leader says the church’s pastor, state Sen. Clementa Pinckney, is among those killed in a shooting at a historic black church in downtown Charleston that authorities are calling a hate crime.
House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford says Pinckney was killed along with eight others in the Wednesday night shooting at Emanuel AME Church.
Authorities are still searching for the shooter, who’s described as a white male in his early 20s.
Pinckney made his name as the youngest African American state legislator in South Carolina’s history. The 41-year-old Democrat was elected to the S.C. House of Representatives in 1996, at the age of 23. Four years later, he was elected to the state senate.
Earlier in the day, Pinckney had campaigned in Charleston with presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, according to MSNBC.
Pinckney, a father of two, started preaching at the age of 13 and first became a pastor at the age of 18.
Pinckney’s Emanuel AME Church is the South’s oldest black congregation south of Baltimore, according to The Post and Courier.
Watch video of Pinckney speaking at the church:
Wednesday’s attack came two months after the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man, Walter Scott, by a white police officer in neighboring North Charleston that sparked major protests and highlighted racial tensions in the area.
Pinckney, as a state senator, was co-sponsor of a state bill aiming to require police to wear body cameras. The bill, which was filed late last year, took on new urgency in the wake of the Scott shooting and was passed earlier this month by the South Carolina Legislature.
“I think that my colleagues will be moved by the fact that other people are moved
“Body cameras help to record what happens,” Pinckney said in April during a vigil for Scott. “It may not be the golden ticket, the golden egg, the end-all-fix-all, but it helps to paint a picture of what happens during a police stop.”
Watch video of Scott speaking about body cameras below:
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.