Charleston Hate-Crime Suspect Dylann Storm Roof in Custody After Killing Spree at Historic Black Church
The shooting, which police are calling a hate crime, happened at the Emanuel AME Church at about 9 p.m. on Wednesday
Dylann Storm Roof, the alleged shooter who opened fire and killed nine people at a historic black church in Charleston on Wednesday, has been apprehended.
Roof was taken into custody Thursday in Shelby, North Carolina, during a traffic stop, authorities said.
“He was stopped because a citizen alerted police to suspicious activity and he was stopped and apprehended,” Police Chief Gregory Mullen said at a press conference. “He was cooperative with the officer who stopped him I believe he acted alone. We don’t have any reason to believe there was anyone else involved.”
An uncle of Roof’s told Reuters he recognized his nephew in a surveillance photo.
“The more I look at him, the more I’m convinced, that’s him,” Carson Cowles, 56, told the news outlet, adding that he believed Roof’s father recently bought his son a .45 caliber handgun as a birthday present.
Among the three males and six females killed in the massacre that took place was state senator and pastor Clementa Pinckney, who traveled to the AME church for a budget meeting before the attack occurred.
South Carolina State Senator Marlon Kimpson said in a CNN interview, “When I learned of the shooting I immediately called Senator Pinckney but there was no answer.”
He then went to the victim assistance unit in the area where he had “a brief conversation with his wife and his two daughters.”
“We are asking the nation and the city of Charleston for prayer for the victims of this tragedy,” Kimpson said.
The suspect fired the shots around 9 p.m. Eight were pronounced dead on the scene, while another died at the hospital. Another victim remains hospitalized with injuries.
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley choked up as she spoke at a press conference Thursday after Roof’s arrest, speaking movingly about the immediate impact of the massacre.
“We woke up today and the heart and soul of South Carolina was broken,” she said. “We have some grieving to do. We have some pain we have to go through. Parents have to explain to kids how they can go to church and feel safe, and we never thought we would have to do that.”
Yet despite overwhelming grief, she said the citizens of her state are leaning on one another and already showing signs of resilience.
“South Carolina has stepped up in a way that has made me proud,” she said. “It is a very, very sad day in South Carolina, but it is a day we will get through. It is a day we will remember and it is a day that will allow us to get stronger.”
At the time of the shooting, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was about an hour away hosting an event. Jeb Bush was also expected to make an appearance in the city but has since canceled, CNN reported.
The incident comes just months after another racially charged tragedy occurred in Charleston, the death of Walter Scott, an unarmed black man shot in the back by a police officer in April. The scene was caught on camera and sparked national outrage.
The officer involved, Michael Slager, was indicted on murder charges June 8.
• With reporting by JEFF TRUESDELL