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Charleston, S.C. police respond to ‘active shooter situation’

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CHARLESTON, S.C. — Police in Charleston, South Carolina, responded to an “active shooter situation” Thursday afternoon, according to a spokesman for the Charleston police.

The shooting involved a “disgruntled employee,” Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg told reporters Thursday.

“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,” he said.

Police asked people to avoid the area near Virginia’s on King, a Southern-style restaurant in the heart of downtown Charleston.

Several hostages were holed up inside the restaurant, spokesman Charles Francis of the Charleston police said during a press conference.

An owner of a nearby boutique said the police activity was focused around the restaurant.

“Right now the streets are full of SWAT and police and people heavily armed. They are blocking off the whole block,” said Sarah Cobb, owner of MOSA boutique.

Cobb described evacuations of nearby businesses and officers with guns pointed toward the restaurant.

Sandy Troeder, who works at a hair salon across the street from Virginia’s, told CNN affiliate WCIV that she saw police and a SWAT team break down the restaurant’s door and enter with dogs and machine guns. Police carried a body out, but she couldn’t see who it was or if there was blood.

Police later came to the salon and told people to evacuate. Andrew Locke, another salon employee, said the situation was “nerve-wracking,” especially in trying to take care of customers.