Charleston, South Carolina police respond to shooting at church

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Thursday, June 18, 2015
Authorities in Charleston, South Carolina respond to a shooting at a church.

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WLS) -- Authorities in Charleston, South Carolina are responding to a shooting at a church.

The shooting happened around 9 p.m. EST at Emanuel AME Church. Police said they are looking for 21-year-old white man with a slender build wearing a gray hoodie, blue jeans and Timberland boots.

It was not immediately clear if there were any injuries or fatalities, police said.

The Post and Courier newspaper is reporting that the pastor of the church was inside for a service at the time of the shooting. But it was unclear if the shooting took place inside the church.

Police are saying on Twitter that they're looking for an approximately 21-year-old white male.

An Associated Press reporter on the scene says police helicopters with searchlights are circling overhead in the area, and a group of pastors are kneeling and praying across the street.

The Emmanuel AME church is a historic African-American church that traces its roots to 1816, when several churches split from Charleston's Methodist Episcopal church.

One of its founders, Denmark Vesey, tried to organize a slave revolt in 1822. He was caught, and white landowners had his church burned in revenge. Parishioners worshipped underground until after the Civil War.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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