The shooter was attending a bible study group at Emanuel AME Church for almost an hour before he opened fire.
The attack left nine people dead, and at least three others injured, in a crime that is being dubbed by some as an act of terrorism. Many speculate that the shooting was racially motivated, as Emanuel AME is a historically black church. Tory Fields, a member of the Charleston County Ministers Conference, told the New York Times:
“It’s obvious that it’s race. What else could it be? 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.”
Sylvia Johnson, a cousin of one of the victims, informed NBC News that one of the victims tried to convince the shooter to stop his rampage, but the shooter responded:
“I have to do it. You rape our women and you’re taking over our country. And you have to go.”
Others speculate that the crimes were religiously motivated. A recent Fox News segment discussed the possibility that the attack might be apart of “the war on Christians”. Bishop E.W. Jackson added to that conversation by saying:
“Most people jump to conclusions about race. I long for the day when we stop doing that in our country. But we don’t know why he went into a church, but he didn’t choose a bar, he didn’t choose a basketball court, he chose a church.”
Authorities are now on a massive manhunt to catch the perpetrator. The Charleston Police Department has released images of the culprit, caught on security camera, of him approaching the church.
And also of him in his getaway car:
Police have said that this is a “all hands on deck” situation, and have set up a tip line at 1-800-CALL-FBI where individuals may report ANY information that they have.
The only victim currently confirmed is former state Senator Rev. Clementa Pinckney. A black cloth has been replaced over his old seat in the state house, to honor his memory and service.
In addition, Twitter user Amber Evans has stated that her grandmother was among the dead.
America’s thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families, the city of Charleston, and our entire country today.
This story will be continuously updated throughout the day as more information comes to light.
Update — 10:16 AM EST
Reuters has announced via Twitter the name of the suspected shooter
A photo of Dylann Roof from Facebook:
This photo has him wearing a jacket that has patches of the white-rule reign in Rhodesia, and the apartheid flag of South Africa. Both very racist symbols.
This photo is the only one publicly accessible on Dylann’s Facebook page. Almost all his other photos and information are hidden from non-friends. Did he want us to have this specific photo? Did he want us to know his specific (possibly racist?) motives?
Update — 10:42 AM EST
The Daily Mail is reporting that Roof was arrested twice in the last year for trespassing and drug possession.
Also this happened:
Update — 10:55 AM EST
A big revelation comes via Twitter.
Based on this information, and the special permissions given to Roof’s Facebook photo, it is becoming more and more clear that this event was very much planned in advance.
Update — 11:30am EST
Reports have surfaced that Dylann Roof has been arrested outside Shelby, North Carolina.
Update — 11:50am EST
Alrighty, got a few things to update on.
The FBI has confirmed that Dylann Roof is now in custody according to CNN.
Thanks to /u/tolfer10 on Reddit.com, we have this map of Roof’s journey after the shooting.
Also, Marcus Stanley posted this very touching comment on Dylann Roof’s facebook page. It is currently the only comment visible to anyone on the page.
Also, a support group (??) for Roof has cropped up.
I wrote a more detailed article on the group here.
Finally, I’ve heard it dropped around the web that it was a civilian call-in that assisted in Roof’s arrest, but I don’t have any hard evidence backing that up at the moment. I’ll see what I can find out.
Update — 12:47PM EST
Here are President Obama’s remarks:
Update — 2:30PM EST
This will probably be my last update — at least for a while. Not much has happened, except the Daily Beast managed to compile some testimonies from Roof’s family and friends. His mom definitely isn’t talking, but his uncle and schoolmates have.
The uncle described him as introverted, and said that he tried to take Roof under his wing at one point. The classmate says that Roof wasn’t well known, very quiet, but was never subject to any bullying he saw.
Thanks to everyone involved in Roof’s capture, and continued thoughts for the victim’s, their family, and the city of Charleston.