After a manhunt across two states, it looks like they’ve got him. A 21-year-old white gunman suspected of shooting and killing nine people at a prayer meeting at a historic black church in Charleston, S.C. was arrested Thursday, authorities say.
He was discovered 200 miles away in Shelby, N.C., about three hours outside of Charleston and west of Charlotte. Charleston police chief Greg Mullen said that the suspect, Dylann Storm Roof, was taken into custody roughly 14 hours after the shooting. Shelby police were given a tip about a suspicious car in the area, and he was arrested without incident.
Charleston Mayor Joe Riley Jr. told reporters that local and state police along with federal agents were sent to identify and find the shooter. He said that in this country, “we don’t let bad people get away with these dastardly deeds.”
Mullen was relieved that authorities were able to locate him quickly. “I am so pleased that we were able to resolve this case quickly … so that nobody else is harmed by this individual who obviously committed a tragic, heinous crime in the city of Charleston,” Mullen said.
The suspect spent an hour in a prayer meeting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church before opening fire and committing what the United States is investigating as a hate crime Wednesday evening, Mullen said Thursday. Officials claim that Roof stood up and said he was there “to shoot black people,” as reported by CNN.
Reuters reported that a man, who claimed to be Roof’s uncle, came forward and said that he had recently been given a .45-caliber handgun for his birthday. His uncle also said that the 21-year-old seemed lost.
His actions resulted in nine deaths. Three were males and six were females. The church’s Reverend Clementa Pinckney and a Democratic member of the state Senate were among the victims, according to Reuters. Three people survived the attack. Charleston NAACP President Dot Scott told CNN that the shooter told one survivor he would keep her alive so she could “tell them what happened.” So sad, and chilling.
Officials are searching for more information on Roof. A photo of him on social media showed him wearing a jacket that appeared to have the flags of apartheid-era South Africa and Rhodesia, a former British colony ruled by a white minority that became independent in 1980 and changed its name to Zimbabwe.
The New York Times reported that the United States Attorney Office for South Carolina, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and the F.B.I have opened a hate crime investigation. Read more on the details of the incident and hate crimes here.