Police are reporting an “active shooter situation” in downtown Charleston, S.C., near the King Street area.
Charleston police are requesting that the public avoid downtown, and employees working near a restaurant called Virginia’s –the location where police believe the active shooter is still located — are reportedly on lockdown, The Post & Courier report.
An elderly black man entered the restaurant Thursday afternoon dressed like a member of the kitchen staff and was wielding a small caliber revolver in his left hand. The man, a former employee of Virginia’s, promptly locked the front door and told the restaurant’s patrons, “I am the new king of Charleston.”
“The shooter is a disgruntled employee,” Charleston City Mayor John Tecklenburg said Thursday. “This is not an act of terrorism. This is not a hate crime.”
A patron that was inside Virginia’s when the shooter walked in described him as “an ordinary grandpa, but he had a crazy look. It was very crazy.”
Hostage negotiators are on the scene, along with SWAT team members and medics to care for any wounded. Police are reporting that one person was shot and was immediately rushed to the hospital. A few hostages are believed to still be inside Virginia’s.
Police ask public to avoid downtown area of Charleston, South Carolina, due to shooting incident.
— NBC Nightly News (@NBCNightlyNews) August 24, 2017
“I saw guns drawn at the entrance to Virginia’s,” Sarah Cobb, an owner of a boutique store near Virginia’s, told reporters. Cobb reportedly did not hear any gunfire, but saw SWAT team members with rifles on the scene.
— Andrew Knapp (@offlede) August 24, 2017
SWAT teams are currently positioned near Virginia’s, and no injuries have been reported at this time.
Charleston police reportedly told store owners to call their employees and tell them not to return to the office until police report everything is clear.
Virginia’s is located only a few blocks away from Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, where Dylan Roof gunned down 9 black members in June 2015.
This post will be updated as more details become available.
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