The shooting was reported shortly after noon Thursday.
Witnesses say tell News 2's Libba Holland that cops had guns drawn at one point.
The restaurant owner said he thinks the gunman was sacked and came back to get revenge.
"This is not an act of terrorism, this is not a hate crime", Tecklenburg said at a press conference.
Then another person, who turned out to be the gunman, came into the dining room and announced that he was the "new boss in town", Siegert said.
The shooter was described as a black man in his late 50s, with one witness saying the gunman had 'a insane look'.
Francis says the shooter is holding a small number of hostages, but he has declined to give an exact number.
The shooter later told patrons inside the restaurant to "get out from the back", Sloan said.
Charleston Police Department Interim Chief Jerome Taylor said the suspect was shot by City of Charleston Police officers. Hostage negotiators are now trying to speak with the shooter and negotiate a way for him to release the hostages without further incident. Medics transported that person to a local hospital. The witness said a body was carried out by the police, but it was not clear who the person was or how badly they were injured.
Whiddon was the executive chef at Virginia's on King Street where the incident took place.
Charleston police sent SWAT and a bomb disposal team to the restaurant. Authorities told any one who is outside to leave the area and for people inside to stay inside.
She said she did not hear any gunfire but that there is a heavy police presence and SWAT officers in the area.
The site is just blocks away from the Emanuel AME church, where a racist white gunman killed nine black members of the church in June 2015. Dylann Roof was sentenced to death in the case.