Lawmakers on Wednesday night were winding down from the White House summer picnic and strategizing on a looming trade vote when news broke of a tragic shooting in Charleston, S.C.
Nine people were killed in a rampage on a historically black church, including a state senator who was also the congregation's leader. The white gunman is still at large and authorities are calling the incident a hate crime.
Politics were put on hold in the wake of the news, as presidential candidates in the Palmetto State to participate in campaign events canceled scheduled appearances.
Florida congresswoman and Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz was scheduled to speak to reporters at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast in downtown Washington, D.C., Thursday morning, but postponed in light of the tragedy.
"I am heartbroken by this senseless tragedy at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church," Wasserman Schultz tweeted. "My thoughts are with everyone in Charleston."
Other lawmakers also took to social media to express an outpouring of grief.
"My prayers are with the families of those killed in Charleston last night. If you know anything, please come forward," tweeted Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., who included an image of the "wanted" ad for the gunman.
"Thoughts and prayers to the victims and their families of tonight's tragic shooting at the Emmanuel AME church," Rep. Mark Sanford, R-S.C., who represents the Charleston area, tweeted too.
An e-mail statement came from Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., and one of only two African-Americans representing the state on Capitol Hill (the other is House Assistant Minority Leader James E. Clyburn):
"My heart is breaking for Charleston and South Carolina tonight. This senseless tragedy in a place of workshop — where we come together to laugh, love and rejoice in God's name — is absolutely despicable and can never be understood.
Tonight we stand together in prayer for ... the families who are enduring unimaginable pain at the loss of their loved ones. We will come together as a city and as a state to lift up those who need us most right now. I hope for their stake, and the people for Charleston, that the perpetrators of this terrible crime are swiftly brought to justice."
A note accompanying Scott's statement said he plans to return home "as soon as possible."
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