Dylann Storm Roof, Suspect in SC Church Mass Murder, Arrested in NC

Individuals praying at the scene where a white gunman opened fire inside a historic black church in Charleston, S.C., June 17, 2015, killing nine people. 
WCSC

Updated Thursday, June 18, 1:36 p.m. EDT: A South Carolina news station, WLTX, is reporting that law enforcement has apprehended Dylann Storm Roof in Shelby, N.C. 

According to the report, the 21-year-old was taken into custody at approximately 11 a.m. after a traffic stop. Charleston, S.C., Police Chief Greg Mullen said that a citizen called police in Shelby about a suspicious vehicle. He was pulled over shortly afterward and then taken into custody. A firearm was found in the vehicle. 

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So far, Roof has reportedly been "cooperative," Mullen said, according to the news station. Charleston officers are en route to interview the suspect and to begin the process of extraditing him back to South Carolina to be prosecuted.

"That awful person, that terrible human being … is now in custody where he will always remain," Charleston Mayor Joe Riley said at a news conference after the arrest, according to WLTX. "In America, we don't let bad people like this get away with these dastardly deeds."

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Updated Thursday, June 18, 10:15 a.m. EDT: Law enforcement has identified the suspect in the horrific attack on a historic black church in Charleston, S.C., as 21-year-old Dylann Roof of Columbia, S.C., WIS reports. According to the report, a manhunt is still under way for the gunman, who is considered armed and dangerous. WIS notes that public records show that the 21-year-old was recently arrested in March on drug charges. Roof is believed to be driving a black Hyundai Elantra with the South Carolina tag LGF-330, the news site reports. 

Roof is shown in a Facebook photo wearing a jacket with patches of flags from apartheid-era South Africa and Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). 

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In the aftermath of the mass slayings that left nine dead at historic black church Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal, the Department of Justice has announced plans to open a hate crime investigation, parallel to the state investigation and coordinated with the FBI, Fox 2 Now reports.

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Roof is said to have sat in on a prayer meeting for an hour at the church before opening fire on the unsuspecting worshippers. 

Sylvia Johnson, a cousin of the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, who was also a South Carolina state senator and was killed during the attack, said that a survivor told her that the gunman reloaded his weapon five times, saying, “I have to do it. You rape our women and you’re taking over the country. You have to go,” the Daily Beast reports.  

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A Charleston NAACP official also reported that one survivor, who remains unidentified, was told by the gunman that she would be allowed to live to tell everyone else what happened in the church. At least three people survived the horrific attack, law enforcement confirmed, according to the Daily Beast. 

Earlier: 

Nine people are dead after a white gunman opened fire Wednesday night at a historic black church in Charleston, S.C.., the New York Times reports.

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The unidentified shooter reportedly began firing inside the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church at about 9 p.m. Wednesday, killing eight people at the scene. Two individuals were rushed to the Medical University of South Carolina, but one of the two died of injuries en route, the news site reports. 

“This is a tragedy that no community should have to experience,” said Charleston Police Chief Greg Mullen, who called the shooting a hate crime. “It is senseless and unfathomable that someone would go into a church where people were having a prayer meeting and take their lives.

“Obviously, this is the worst night of my career,” the chief added. “This is clearly a tragedy in the city of Charleston.”

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According to the report, information about the victims was not released; nor was the total number of people who were in the church at the time of the shooting. The authorities released surveillance-video photos of a suspect in the shooting, who was reportedly captured on video leaving the house of worship in a black, four-door sedan.

Democrat J. Todd Rutherford, minority leader in the South Carolina House of Representatives, told the Times that the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, a state senator, and Pinckney’s sister were among those dead. 

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The city is offering a reward for information leading to the arrest of the killer, who was described as a young white man, about 21 years old, with sandy-blond hair. He was clean-shaven and wearing a gray sweatshirt, blue jeans and Timberland boots, the Times notes. 

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“To walk into a church and shoot someone is out of pure hatred,” Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. said at a press conference early Thursday morning. 

The church, known fondly as “Mother Emanuel,” has a long and embattled history, the Washington Post noted. It was founded by individuals who were attempting to escape the racism in the South. It had been burned down for its connection with a slave revolt, which was ultimately stopped. Meetings had been conducted in secret as members snubbed laws that banned all-black services. 

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A member of the Charleston County Ministers Conference, Tory Fields, told the Times that “it’s obvious that it’s race.” 

“What else could it be?” he said. “You’ve got a white guy going into an African-American church. That’s choice. He chose to go into that church and harm those people. That’s choice.”

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