A disgruntled employee shot and killed one person at a restaurant in Charleston, South Carolina, and took hostages as police surrounded the building.
The unidentified suspect entered the restaurant, Virginia’s On King, at around noon, shot one individual and then barricaded himself inside with “several people,” officials said Thursday afternoon.
After a standoff, the gunman was shot and taken to a hospital, where he remains in critical condition, Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg confirmed.
“We tragically lost a member of our community today,” said Tecklenburg, who did not identify the victim. “This was not an act of terrorism, this was not a hate crime.”
Witnesses told The Post and Courier that the armed man had declared, “I am the new king of Charleston.” The suspect was wearing an apron and possibly carrying a small-caliber revolver.
The suspect locked the doors in the restaurant as some 30 people were eating lunch, telling them to get down on the floor, witnesses told the Post and Courier. Some were able to escape by crawling out exit doors in the back of the restaurant. One hostage who remained with the gunman for some time was rescued unharmed, the mayor said.
Tom and Patsy Plant told the paper they were eating when the suspect came from the kitchen and said, “There’s a new boss in town.”
Charleston County Sheriff Al Cannon confirmed that the gunman had a history of mental health issues.
The restaurant is just a few blocks away from Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, where Dylann Roof killed nine black parishioners in 2015. Roof was sentenced to death in January.