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AS IT HAPPENED: A timeline of the Emanuel AME Church shooting - Live5News.com | Charleston, SC | News, Weather, Sports

AS IT HAPPENED: A timeline of the Emanuel AME Church shooting

Source: Live 5 Source: Live 5
CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) -

On the evening of June 17, 2015, Charleston's Mother Emanuel AME Church held its regular Wednesday night Bible study.

The evening would be anything but routine.

Police say accused gunman Dylann- Roof attended the Bible study that night, which began at 8 p.m. 

After spending about an hour with the group--at around 9pm, investigators say Roof stood up and began shooting. 

Nine people were killed, including State Sen. and the Rev. Clementa Pinckney. Several of the victims were also ministers at the church, including Rev. Sharonda Singleton, retired pastor Dr. Daniel Simmons,  and Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor.  The other victims were Ethel Lance, Cynthia Graham Hurd, Susie Jackson, Myra Thompson, and Tywanza Sanders.

Word of the shooting spread first on police scanners.

"I copy several victims regarding that active shooting give me at least 4 medic units," a dispatcher said shortly after 9:05 p.m.

Another dispatch call reported "an active shooter, multiple people down."

Shortly after 10 p.m., Charleston Police spokesman Charles Francis was providing whatever information he could, but had no details on victims. But at 10:29 p.m., police did release information on the gunman.

"A white male, approximately 21 years of age, slender, small build wearing a gray sweat shirt, possible hoodie, blue jeans, Timberland boots, clean shaven," Francis said.

That description quickly spread to the FBI and the state Highway Patrol as the search for the suspected shooter intensified.

By 10:43 p.m., reports came in that police handcuffed a man matching the suspect's description just blocks away from the church. But police would later say he was not the suspect.

Elected officials across the state and church as well as community leaders started sending messages of sympathy and shock across Social media.

By 11:15 p.m., people had begun to gather near the church.

"We are just sick to our stomachs that this could happen in a church," one bystander said.

Approximately 15 minutes later, a tense situation became even more stressful for those in the immediate area as police warn a bomb threat had been called in.

That threat, when turned out to be a hoax, did not stop people from coming to the scene, however. Over the next hour -- people were joining hands and praying for the victims and their families.

At 12:49 a.m., now early Thursday morning, Charleston Police Chief Greg Mullin and longtime Mayor Joe Riley addressed the community.

"We were able to determine there are eight deceased individuals at the church," Mullen said. "Two have been taken to the hospital and one has died."

"This is the most unspeakable and heart wrenching tragedy," Riley said.

Mullin confirmed there were some survivors and turned his attention to the suspected gunman

"We have investigators out tracking leads and we will continue to do that until we find this individual who has carried out this crime and bring him to justice," Mullen said. "I do believe this was a hate crime."

By 1 a.m., none of the identities of the victims had been confirmed. Mullen would not confirm at that point whether the church's pastor, State Sen. and the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, was in the church at the time of the shooting.

Church leaders struggled to make sense of what happened.

"We are praying and hoping for the best," the Rev. Randolph Miller said.

After hours of waiting for word, police provided an update on their search for the suspect at 4:30 a.m. Thursday.

It would be another half hour before authorities confirmed Pinckney was one of the nine victims.

At 6 a.m., police released the first picture of the man they believed had opened fire inside the church. Surveillance cameras at the church captured the man police called a suspect as he walked inside the church, along with images of his car in the parking lot.

"Please help us get this out as quickly as possible," Mullen said to the media.

More than 14 hours after the shooting, at about 10:30 a.m., a woman in Shelby, North Carolina, three hours north of Charleston, reported a car and man matching Roof's description.

In police dashcam video, an officer is heard stating, "We have just stopped a vehicle and confirmed it is the suspect in the Charleston shooting."

Shortly before noon, Gov. Nikki Haley spoke during a news conference about the shooting.

"We woke up today and the heart and soul of South Carolina was broken," she said, pausing to choke back tears. "And so have some grieving to do and we have some pain we have to go through. Parents are having  to explain to their kids how they can go to church and feel safe. And that is not something we ever thought we'd deal with. Having said that, we are a strong and faithful state."

Later that afternoon, Roof handcuffed with a bullet proof vest, was escorted onto a plane back to Charleston to face murder charges.

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