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Charleston gunman who held hostages shot by police, 1 victim dead

CHARLESTON, S.C. — The mayor says a hostage situation in a Charleston, South Carolina, restaurant has ended with the gunman being shot by police.

Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg said the restaurant employee shot by the gunman Thursday has died.

Interim Charleston Police Chief Jerome Taylor says all the hostages at Virginia’s restaurant were rescued safely. He didn’t say how many there were.

Tecklenburg says the man who took the hostages is in critical condition.

Authorities did not release the names of the gunman or the man killed.

Taylor says the restaurant on tourist-heavy King Street was packed at lunchtime and his officers helped rescue the wounded man and a number of diners.

 

The shooting involved a “disgruntled employee,” Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg told reporters Thursday.

“This is not act of terrorism. This is not a hate crime. It’s a disgruntled employee who has come on the scene of his employment,” he said.

 

An owner of a nearby boutique said the police activity was focused around the restaurant.

“Right now the streets are full of SWAT and police and people heavily armed. They are blocking off the whole block,” said Sarah Cobb, owner of MOSA boutique.

Cobb described evacuations of nearby businesses and officers with guns pointed toward the restaurant.

Sandy Troeder, who works at a hair salon across the street from Virginia’s, told CNN affiliate WCIV that she saw police and a SWAT team break down the restaurant’s door and enter with dogs and machine guns. Police carried a body out, but she couldn’t see who it was or if there was blood.

Police later came to the salon and told people to evacuate. Andrew Locke, another salon employee, said the situation was “nerve-wracking,” especially in trying to take care of customers.

The shooting was reported just after noon on King Street, police spokesman Charles Francis said in a statement.

Tom and Patsy Plant told The Post and Courier of Charleston they were eating at Virginia’s restaurant and saw a man come out of the kitchen with a gun in his hand who said, “There’s a new boss in town.”

The man looked like “an ordinary grandpa, but he had a crazy look,” the couple said. They were able to escape out a back door.

Charleston Police sent SWAT teams and a bomb disposal unit to the area. Authorities instructed people inside to stay inside and those outside to leave the area.

The site is a few blocks away from Emanuel AME church, where nine black members of a church were killed by a white man during a June 2015 Bible study. Dylann Roof was sentenced to death in the case.