First Photos Of South Carolina Church Shooting Suspect Released As A Manhunt Unfolds

The City of Charleston Police Department has released two photos of the suspect in the Emanuel AME Church shooting that killed at least nine people Wednesday night in what authorities believe is a hate crime. The Charleston Police Department described the suspect as a young, white male who stands approximately 5’09” in height and has a slender build. Authorities stated the suspect was seen leaving the historic African-American church following the deadly shooting in a black sedan. (Update: The alleged shooter has been identified by the FBI as Dylann Storm Roof.)

The shooting broke out at 9 p.m. Wednesday night when the suspect opened fire on the congregation of Emanuel AME Church, one of the oldest black churches in the nation. According to authorities, the suspect allegedly entered the church at 8 p.m., attending a prayer meeting there an hour before he began shooting. Charleston Police Chief Greg Mullen told reporters Thursday morning that he believes the shooting is a hate crime, with the church specifically targeted because of its black membership.

The police chief said the young suspect is considered armed and dangerous. He was last seen wearing a gray sweatshirt. "He has on a very distinctive sweatshirt as well as the vehicle, with a very distinctive license plate," Mullen told reporters Thursday morning. The police chief added that the suspect is a "very dangerous individual" who needs to be apprehended before "he hurts anyone else."

"He should not be approached by anyone," Mullen said. The police chief advised residents to also stay away from the suspect's car if they see it on the street. Individuals with details or information about the suspect, or people who see him in the area should contact 1-800-CALL- FBI.

Here are the photos of the white male suspect and his sedan that were released Thursday...

The suspect allegedly killed nine people at the church, and left only three survivors. Charleston Police haven't released the names of the victims, but individuals have confirmed that Pastor Clementa Pinckney, who also served as a state senator, was fatally wounded in the shooting massacre.

Authorities did announce at a news conference Thursday morning that six women and three men were among those killed. All of the victims died from gunshot wounds.

Here's the full alert released by the City of Charleston Police Department...

Images: Charleston Police Department (4)