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Mass shooting at Charleston church leaves 9 dead (Update)

Last night at a Bible study class in Charleston, South Carolina, a man walked into a church and opened fire. Nine people were killed in what police believe was a hate crime.

Update: Dylann Roof, 21, of Lexington, South Carolina, has been named as the suspect in the shooting and is now in police custody. Charleston police spokesman Charles Francis told CNN it is being investigated as a hate crime because the victims “were killed because they were black.”

Hearts across the country this morning are aching as we see news and images from the scene of the massacre, which happened at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, the largest AME church in the South. The killer reportedly entered the church, sat down, then at some point stood up and started shooting.

More: Celebs react with horror to Charleston church shootings

According to the Daily Mail, the suspect spared at least one woman so she could “tell the world what happened.” A 5-year-old girl also reportedly survived because she played dead, according to her grandmother’s instruction.

More: Charleston shooting another example of racism in America

All signs point to it being a hate crime. What else could motivate such abhorrent actions other than hate? Charleston Mayor Joe Riley told CNN, “The only reason someone would walk into a church and shoot people that were praying is hate.”

The suspect is still at large and is described by police as a clean-shaven white man believed to be in his 20s. “He obviously is extremely dangerous,” Mullen told the station.

It’s absolutely horrifying to see such brutal evidence of the hate for one’s fellow man some harbor. It’s as heartbreaking as it is infuriating. Even if you’re not religious, it’s stories like this that make us all want to pray for humanity.

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