CHURCH BLOODBATH: Photos Released of Gunman who Killed Nine People in Charleston Church

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The suspect had a criminal history. How does a dad give his law-breaking son a gun?

Police have released CCTV images of a white gunman who shot dead nine people in a cold-blooded race-hate crime at an African-American church in South Carolina on Wednesday night.

The 21-year-old suspect opened fire at a weekly bible study group at the 150-year-old Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, shooting dead three male victims and six females – but spared one woman so she could ‘tell the world what happened’, eye witnesses recounted.

A five-year-old girl also survived the attack after her grandmother told her to play dead when the shooter started firing.

The gunman had entered the church an hour before the shooting and joined the study group before suddenly opening fire, Police Chief Gregory Mullen said at an early-morning press conference on Thursday.

Among the victims was 41-year-old Reverend Clementa Pinckney, pastor of the church and a South Carolina state senator, it has emerged. His sister was also reportedly been shot but the names of the other victims have not yet been released.

On Thursday, a photo shared by a WIS reporter shows a black cloth placed over Pinckney’s seat in the South Carolina Senate.

The city has now been placed on lockdown as police and the FBI hunt for the killer, whom they described as a clean-shaven white male, 5 ft 9 in height. He is believed to be wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt, blue jeans, and Timberland boots. He is believed to be the only shooter.

Police say he fled the scene in a ‘distinctive’ getaway car, which they believe is still in the Charleston area. They released images of the vehicle and asked for anyone who sees it to contact authorities immediately.

‘He is dangerous and should not be approached and anybody who sees him should call 911,’ Chief Mullen said. ‘We need to identify and arrest him before he hurts someone else in the city or the general area.’

He added: ‘We believe this is a hate crime – that is how we are investigating it.’

On Thursday it emerged that the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office have launched a hate crime investigation into the mass shooting, ABC reported. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and other agencies have joined the investigation, Mullen said.

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