BOSTON (CBS) — Massachusetts leaders are reaching out to local clergy following a shooting at a Charleston, South Carolina church that left nine dead.
Dylann Storm Roof, who police say opened fire during a prayer meeting at the historically black church, was captured following a manhunt on Thursday morning, CBS News reports. Authorities are describing the deadly assault as a hate crime.
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said he spoke to Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley Thursday morning and offered his condolences.
“My heart goes out to the people of Charleston, South Carolina,” Walsh told WBZ NewsRadio 1030. “Clearly it seems like a hate crime, racism, what happened here.”
Walsh said he and Boston Police Commissioner William Evans have started talking with local religious leaders to offer support.
“Anyone that feels concerned, we will take action to protect any churches,” Walsh said. “We’re going to be working today to make sure people feel safe.”
Gov. Charlie Baker called the shooting “a monumental tragedy for everyone involved.”
He said he’ll also be checking in with clergy on Thursday, but added it’s too early to determine if there’s any public safety risk to local churches.
“Until we know more about the origination of where this motivation came from, other than this is just a really bad guy, it’s hard to draw any conclusions about whether there’s any kind of a ripple here,” he told WBZ NewsRadio 1030.
Pastor Gregory Groover of the Charles Street AME church in Dorchester, said he was stunned by the shooting that involved “a clear act of racism.”
“People cannot even attend church, cannot even pray and talk to God without someone deciding to come in and then get up and say ‘I’m ending your life,'” he said.
Pastors at Twelfth Baptist Church in Roxbury are coming together to show their love and support for the AME church.
“Early in the 60s when they were bombing churches through the whole civil rights era, but through it all we have survived and we’re going to move through this particular dark time,” says Rev. Arthur Gerard.
A prayer service will be held Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Bethel AME Church in Jamaica Plain.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Doug Cope reports: