Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) said Thursday morning that we don’t yet know the motivation behind a mass shooting at a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina that authorities were treating as a hate crime.
“I think this is one of those situations — maybe it’s a good point where we don’t know the motivation of the person who did it,” Giuliani said on Fox News’ “Fox and Friends.” “So maybe this can unite us because whoever did this is just an evil person.”
A white man opened fire Wednesday night at a historic black church, Emanuel AME, in downtown Charleston. He killed nine people, including pastor and state Sen. Clementa Pinckney (D).
Charleston Police Chief Greg Mullen said in a news conference early Thursday that he believed the shooting was a hate crime. Later, Mullen said the suspect had sat at Bible study with his victims for an hour before opening fire on them.
But Giuliani suggested that the killer’s motivations wouldn’t become clear until police caught up with him.
“We have no idea what’s in his mind,” he said. “Maybe he hates Christian churches. Maybe he hates black churches or he’s gonna go find another one. Who knows.”
The former mayor, who has a habit of offering racially-charged takes on crime, also invoked the September 11 terror attacks to urge people not to let the Charleston shooting “divide” them.
“The night of September 11, I said to people, ‘Let’s not use this to divide us,'” he said. “Let’s not acquire the group blame that the people who came and killed us have. Let’s realize that good people are united and in every group we have a few bad people. From whatever group this bad person emerges, this bad person is the aberration.”
Catherine Thompson is a senior editor for Talking Points Memo in New York City. She came to the site in 2013 and reported on national affairs. Previously, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She can be reached at email@example.com.