Nine people are dead following a mass shooting at a historic black church in the US city of Charleston.
Charleston police chief Greg Mullen said there were survivors, but would not give details nor would he identify any of the victims.
"I do believe this is a hate crime. This will be investigated as a hate crime," he told reporters.
The FBI is assisting the investigation.
A single gunman, described as a white 21-year-old male, opened fire at the 150-year-old Emanuel AME Church around 9pm local time on Wednesday while several people were attending a prayer meeting.
Mullen said eight were found dead in the church and one died in hospital.
The gunman was still at large, and Mullen said everything will be done to track him down.
A reward would be announced on Thursday.
Mayor Joe Riley said the shooting was heart breaking.
"This is one hateful person who did these dastardly things."
The Emanuel AME Church is the South's oldest black congregation south of Baltimore.
It has played an important part during South Carolina's history, including the slavery era and the Civil Rights movement.