Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg said the restaurant employee shot by the gunman has died. He said the incident was not an act of terrorism.
“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,” Mayor John Tecklenburg told reporters Thursday.
Witnesses said a man emerged from the kitchen of the restaurant, told diners there was a “new boss” in Charleston and ordered them to leave.
Tom and Patsy Plant told The Post and Courier of Charleston that they were eating at the restaurant, Virginia’s on King, when a man came out of the kitchen with a gun in his hand and 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 and warned people nearby to stay inside buildings or leave.
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.
Police in Charleston, South Carolina first began investigating an active shooter situation on the 400 block of King Street at around 1 p.m. local time Thursday.
In a tweet, the Charleston Police Department told residents to avoid the area.
A section of King Street, in the city’s central commercial district, was blocked to cars and pedestrians because of the situation, Charleston Police spokesman Charles Francis said in a statement.
— With files from the Associated Press. More to come.