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photo(The Post & Courier) – A Justice Department spokesman says federal officials are opening a hate crime investigation into the fatal shooting of nine people at a historic black church in Charleston.

The spokesman said Thursday that the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, the FBI, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of South Carolina are opening the investigation into the Wednesday night shooting.

The spokesman spoke on condition of anonymity. The official was not authorized to be quoted by name because the federal investigation has not been announced.

Six females and 3 males, including the church’s pastor, were killed by a lone white gunman in one of the most deadly church shootings in United States history.

The suspect killed the nine during a prayer meeting at one of Charleston’s oldest and best-known black churches.

Heavily armed law enforcement officers scoured the area into the morning for the man responsible for the carnage inside Emanuel AME Church at 110 Calhoun St. At least one person was said to have survived the rampage.

Police revealed no motive for the 9 p.m. shooting. Photos of the suspect, who has not as yet been identified, and his vehicle were released early Thursday.

“This tragedy that we’re addressing right now is undescribable,” Charleston Police Chief Greg Mullen said Thursday morning. “The law enforcement agencies that are working on this are committed and we will capture this individual.”

Read the full story here.

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