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I was prepared to write about Brian Williams not returning to the anchor chair at NBC Nightly news, which means Lester Holt is the first African American solo anchor of an evening broadcast network news program, ever.

That’s quite an accomplishment.

Congratulations to Lester.

It is well deserved.

Let’s wish him the very best.

But as a first rate newsman Lester would understand that the news comes first.

So, I must report to you on the very disturbing and sad breaking news coming out of Charleston, South Carolina.

While we were sleeping, a gunman apparently went into one of the oldest African, Methodist and Episcopal churches in the South and opened fire.

Nine people are dead because of it.

The gunman is still on the loose.

One reason it’s such a big story is because the Charleston Police Chief, Greg Mullen, says he believes the shooting was a hate crime.

The suspect is a young white man in his twenties, approximately 5’9″ tall, sandy blonde hair, last seen wearing a gray sweatshirt, jeans and Timberland boots.

Police say the gunman went into the Emanuel AME Church during a prayer service around 9 o’clock last night, joined the prayer service and began shooting.

The pastor of the church, the Reverend Clementa Pickney, is believed to be among the dead.

Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush was supposed to make campaign stops in Charleston today but has since cancelled.

The entire thing is just awful, on so many levels.

It’s awful because of the lives lost.

It’s awful because if it is indeed a racial hate crime, it sets us that much further back with race relations in this country, right at a time we’re dealing with it so often in relations to police and their interactions with black people.

It’s awful because if it is a religious hate crime it is one more attack on religion and Christians in this country.

It’s awful because it highlights just how ill equipped we are in dealing with the mentally ill in this country.

It’s awful because it confirms to us just how poorly we’ve dealt with issues and laws concerning firearms in this country.

It’s awful because many of us have failed to realize that we need to take care of the aforementioned issues.

Our lives depend on it.

Nine lives were lost because of it.

God speed.


Don Lemon: S.C. Church Shooting — Racial Or Religious Hate Crime?  was originally published on