White suspect arrested in killing of 9 at black US church

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Suspected Charleston Gunman Dylann Roof Had Troubled Past

A white man was arrested on Thursday on suspicions he killed nine people at a historic African-American church in South Carolina after sitting with them for an hour of Bible study in an attack U.S. officials are investigating as a hate crime.

The mass shooting set off an intense 14-hour manhunt that ended when 21-year-old Dylann Roof was arrested in a traffic stop about 220 miles (350 km) north of Charleston, South Carolina, where the shooting occurred, officials said.

Wednesday's mass shooting at the almost 200-year-old Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, comes after a year of turmoil and protests over race relations, policing and criminal justice in the United States. A series of police killings of unarmed black men has sparked a renewed civil rights movement under the "Black Lives Matter" banner.

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Charleston SC shooting, scene and suspect - Dylann Roof
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White suspect arrested in killing of 9 at black US church
Photos found on a website that allegedly belongs to church shooting suspect Dylann Roof.
Photos found on a website that allegedly belongs to church shooting suspect Dylann Roof.
Photos found on a website that allegedly belongs to church shooting suspect Dylann Roof.
Photos found on a website that allegedly belongs to church shooting suspect Dylann Roof.
Photos found on a website that allegedly belongs to church shooting suspect Dylann Roof.
Photos found on a website that allegedly belongs to church shooting suspect Dylann Roof.
Photos found on a website that allegedly belongs to church shooting suspect Dylann Roof.
Photos found on a website that allegedly belongs to church shooting suspect Dylann Roof.
Photos found on a website that allegedly belongs to church shooting suspect Dylann Roof.
Photos found on a website that allegedly belongs to church shooting suspect Dylann Roof.
Photos found on a website that allegedly belongs to church shooting suspect Dylann Roof.
Dylann Roof appears via video before a judge in Charleston, S.C, on Friday, June 19, 2015. The 21-year-old man accused of killing nine people inside a black church in Charleston made his first court appearance Friday, with the relatives of all the victims making tearful statements. (Centralized Bond Hearing Court, of Charleston, S.C. via AP, Pool)
Dylann Roof appears via video before a judge in North Charleston, S.C, on Friday, June 19, 2015. The 21-year-old man accused of killing nine people inside a black church in Charleston made his first court appearance Friday, with the relatives of all the victims making tearful statements. (Centralized Bond Hearing Court, of Charleston, S.C. via AP, Pool)
Dylann Roof appears via video before a judge in Charleston, S.C., on Friday, June 19, 2015. The 21-year-old accused of killing nine people inside a black church in Charleston made his first court appearance, with the relatives of all the victims making tearful statements. (Centralized Bond Hearing Court, of Charleston, S.C. via AP)
Charleston, S.C., shooting suspect Dylann Storm Roof is escorted from the Cleveland County Courthouse in Shelby, N.C., Thursday, June 18, 2015. Roof is a suspect in the shooting of several people Wednesday night at the historic The Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Charleston, S.C., shooting suspect Dylann Storm Roof is escorted from the Cleveland County Courthouse in Shelby, N.C., Thursday, June 18, 2015. Roof is a suspect in the shooting of several people Wednesday night at the historic The Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Charleston, S.C., shooting suspect Dylann Storm Roof is escorted from the Cleveland County Courthouse in Shelby, N.C., Thursday, June 18, 2015. Roof is a suspect in the shooting of several people Wednesday night at the historic The Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
This photo provided by Charleston County Sheriff's Office shows Dylann Roof, Thursday, June 18, 2015. Roof, 21, was arrested Thursday in the slayings of several people Wednesday, including the pastor, at a prayer meeting inside The Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C. (Charleston County Sheriff's Office via AP)
Charleston, S.C., shooting suspect Dylann Storm Roof is escorted from the Cleveland County Courthouse in Shelby, N.C., Thursday, June 18, 2015. Roof is a suspect in the shooting of several people Wednesday night at the historic The Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
This April 2015 photo released by the Lexington County (S.C.) Detention Center shows Dylann Roof, 21. Charleston Police identified Roof as the shooter who opened fire during a prayer meeting inside the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., Wednesday, June 17, 2015, killing several people. (Lexington County (S.C.) Detention Center via AP)
This image has been provided by the Charleston Police Department, Thursday, June 18, 2015. A man opened fire during a prayer meeting inside a historic black church in downtown Charleston, S.C., Wednesday night, June 17, 2015, killing nine people, including the pastor in an assault that authorities are calling a hate crime. The shooter remained at large Thursday. (Photo via Charleston Police Department)
This image has been provided by the Charleston Police Department, Thursday, June 18, 2015. A man opened fire during a prayer meeting inside a historic black church in downtown Charleston, S.C., Wednesday night, June 17, 2015, killing nine people, including the pastor in an assault that authorities are calling a hate crime. The shooter remained at large Thursday. (Charleston Police Department via AP)
The Emanuel AME Church is viewed behind a police vehicle on June 18, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina, after a mass shooting at the Church on the evening of June 17, 2015. US police on Thursday arrested a 21-year-old white gunman suspected of killing nine people at a prayer meeting in one of the nation's oldest black churches in Charleston, an attack being probed as a hate crime. The shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in the southeastern US city was one of the worst attacks on a place of worship in the country in recent years, and comes at a time of lingering racial tensions. AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
A police officer holds up a tape in front of the Emanuel AME Church June 18, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina, after a mass shooting at the church on the evening of June 17, 2015. US police on Thursday arrested a 21-year-old white gunman suspected of killing nine people at a prayer meeting in one of the nation's oldest black churches in Charleston, an attack being probed as a hate crime. The shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in the southeastern US city was one of the worst attacks on a place of worship in the country in recent years, and comes at a time of lingering racial tensions. AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Map locates Charleston, S.C., site of a church shooting; 3c x 3 inches; 146 mm x 76 mm;
A view ofthe Emanuel AME Church is seen June 18, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina, after a mass shooting at the church on the evening of June 17, 2015. US police on Thursday arrested a 21-year-old white gunman suspected of killing nine people at a prayer meeting in one of the nation's oldest black churches in Charleston, an attack being probed as a hate crime. The shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in the southeastern US city was one of the worst attacks on a place of worship in the country in recent years, and comes at a time of lingering racial tensions. AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Map locates Charleston, S.C., site of a church shooting; 1c x 2 inches; 46.5 mm x 50 mm;
The sun begins to rise behind the steeple of Emanuel AME Church, Thursday, June 18, 2015, in Charleston, S.C. On Wednesday, a white man opened fire during a prayer meeting inside the historic black church, killing multiple people, including the pastor, in an assault that authorities described as a hate crime. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
A man kneels across the street from where police gather outside the Emanuel AME Church following a shooting Wednesday, June 17, 2015, in Charleston, S.C. (Wade Spees/The Post And Courier via AP)
Surreace Cox, of North Charleston, S.C., holds a sign during a prayer vigil down the street from the Emanuel AME Church early Thursday, June 18, 2015, following a shooting Wednesday night in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Police talk to a man outside the Emanuel AME Church following a shooting Wednesday, June 17, 2015, inCharleston, S.C. (Wade Spees/The Post And Courier via AP)
A passing motorist looks out her window as she stops at an intersection down the street from the Emanuel AME Church early Thursday, June 18, 2015 following a shooting Wednesday night in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
A man looks on as a group of people arrive inquiring about a shooting across the street Wednesday, June 17, 2015, in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Chaplain James St. John, center, leads senators in prayer, Thursday, June 18, 2015, at the Statehouse in Columbia, S.C. State Sen. Clementa Pinckney was one of those killed Wednesday night in a shooting at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)
FILE - In this Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2012, file photo, state Sen. Clementa Pinckney, right, talks to a supporter during a break in a hearing protesting his re-election in Columbia, S.C. A white man opened fire during a prayer meeting inside an historic black church, in Charleston, S.C., on Wednesday, June 17, 2015, killing multiple people, including Pinckney, the church's pastor, in an assault that authorities described as a hate crime. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins, File)
State Senator Vincent Sheheen (D-Kershaw) gets emtional as he sits next to the draped desk of state Sen. Clementa Pinckney, Thursday, June 18, 2015, at the Statehouse in Columbia, S.C. Pinckney was one of those killed, Wednesday night in a shooting at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)
Charleston Mayor Joseph Riley, right, stands next to Police Chief Gregory Mullen as he addresses the media down the street from the Emanuel AME Church early Thursday, June 18, 2015 following a shooting Wednesday night in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Worshippers gather to pray in a hotel parking lot across the street from the scene of a shooting Wednesday, June 17, 2015, in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Lisa Doctor joins a prayer circle down the street from the Emanuel AME Church early Thursday, June 18, 2015 following a shooting Wednesday night in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
The steeple of Emanuel AME Church is visible as police close off a section of Calhoun Street early Thursday, June 18, 2015 following a shooting Wednesday night in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Charleston Emergency Management Director Mark Wilbert holds a flier distributed to media, Thursday, June 18, 2015, with surveillance footage of a suspect wanted in the connection of a shooting Wednesday at Emanuel AME Church during a news conference, in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Images on a flier provided to media, Thursday, June 18, 2015, by the Charleston Police Department show surveillance footage of a suspect wanted in connection with a shooting Wednesday at Emanuel AME Church inCharleston, S.C. (Courtesy of Charleston Police Department via AP)
The desk of state Sen. Clementa Pinckney is draped in black cloth with a single rose and vase, Thursday, June 18, 2015, at the Statehouse in Columbia, S.C. Pinckney was one of those killed Wednesday night in a shooting at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)
Investigators work outside the Emanuel AME Church early Thursday, June 18, 2015, following a shooting Wednesday night in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Worshippers embrace following a group prayer across the street from the scene of a shooting at Emanuel AME Church, Wednesday, June 17, 2015, in Charleston, S.C. A white man opened fire during a prayer meeting inside the historic black church, killing multiple people, including the pastor, in an assault that authorities described as a hate crime. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
A distraught man is comforted as a group of concerned people arrive inquiring about a shooting across the street Wednesday, June 17, 2015, in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Worshippers embrace following a group prayer across the street from the Emanuel AME Church following a shooting Wednesday, June 17, 2015, in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Worshippers gather to pray in a hotel parking lot across the street from the Emanuel AME Church following a shooting Wednesday, June 17, 2015, in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Charleston Police Chief Gregory Mullen speaks during a news conference, Thursday, June 18, 2015, following Wednesday's shooting at Emanuel AME Church, in Charleston, S.C. Police released surveillance video of a possible suspect and vehicle in the fatal shooting of multiple people at the historic black church. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Police stand outside the Emanuel AME Church following a shooting Wednesday, June 17, 2015, in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
An FBI agent walks across the street from the Emanuel AME Church following a shooting Wednesday, June 17, 2015, in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Worshippers gather to pray down the street from the Emanuel AME Church following a shooting Wednesday, June 17, 2015, in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Police stand outside the Emanuel AME Church following a shooting Wednesday, June 17, 2015, in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Police close off a section of Calhoun Street near the Emanuel AME Church following a shooting Wednesday, June 17, 2015, in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Police walk down the street from the Emanuel AME Church following a shooting Wednesday, June 17, 2015, in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Police stand outside the Emanuel AME Church following a shooting Wednesday, June 17, 2015, in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
A police officer uses a flashlight while searching the area following a shooting Wednesday, June 17, 2015, in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
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Four pastors, including Democratic state Senator Clementa Pinckney, 41, were among the six women and three men shot dead at the church nicknamed "Mother Emanuel," which was burned to the ground in the late 1820s after a slave revolt led by one of its founders.

"The fact that this took place in a black church obviously raises questions about a dark part of our history," said U.S. President Barack Obama. "Once again, innocent people were killed in part because someone who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a gun."

The United States has seen a series of mass shootings in recent years, including the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, where a gunman killed 20 children and six adults. Democratic efforts to reform the nation's gun laws, protect by the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, failed after that incident.

GIFT OF A GUN

A man who identified himself as Carson Cowles, Roof's uncle, told Reuters that Roof's father had recently given him a .45-caliber handgun as a birthday present and that Roof had seemed adrift.

"I don't have any words for it," Cowles, 56, said in a telephone interview. "Nobody in my family had seen anything like this coming."

Roof was armed with a handgun but surrendered peacefully at his arrest, said Charleston Police Chief Greg Mullen.

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Charleston, SC shooting - memorials, aftermath
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White suspect arrested in killing of 9 at black US church
Barbara Lloyd, of Charleston, S.C., cries as she joins hands with mourners during the singing of "We Shall Overcome" at a memorial service for the victims of the shooting at Emanuel AME Church, Friday, June 19, 2015, in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Angela Hines, left, comforts Auburn Sandstrom as she cries while visiting a sidewalk memorial in memory of the shooting victims in front of the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., Saturday, June 20, 2015. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Dr. Dexter Easley preaches to a crowd gathered outside the Emanuel AME Church during a prayer service by the National Clergy Council, Saturday, June 20, 2015 in Charleston, S.C. Clergy from around the country led prayers and words of hope to the people in attendance. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
People que to lay flowers at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina on June 19, 2015. Police captured the white suspect in a gun massacre at one of the oldest black churches in the United States, the latest deadly assault to feed simmering racial tensions. Police detained 21-year-old Dylann Roof, shown wearing the flags of defunct white supremacist regimes in pictures taken from social media, after nine churchgoers were shot dead during bible study on June 17. AFP PHOTO/MLADEN ANTONOV (Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)
People que to lay flowers at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina on June 19, 2015. Police captured the white suspect in a gun massacre at one of the oldest black churches in the United States, the latest deadly assault to feed simmering racial tensions. Police detained 21-year-old Dylann Roof, shown wearing the flags of defunct white supremacist regimes in pictures taken from social media, after nine churchgoers were shot dead during bible study on June 17. AFP PHOTO/MLADEN ANTONOV (Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Barbara Lloyd, of Charleston, S.C., cries during the singing of "We Shall Overcome" at a memorial service for the victims of the shooting at Emanuel AME Church, Friday, June 19, 2015, in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
People attend a vigil at TD Arena for victims of the recent church shooting June 19, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina. For someone reportedly bent on igniting a race war, Dylann Storm Roof had little to say for himself in the first of what will be many court appearances. The 21-year-old suspect in Wednesday night's massacre at an African-American church Bible study class spoke only to answer a judge's questions at a 14-minute bail hearing. AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Police tape surrounds the parking lot behind the AME Emanuel Church as FBI forensic experts work the crime scene, Friday, June 19, 2015 in Charleston, S.C. Dylann Storm Roof, 21, is accused of killing nine people during a Wednesday night Bible study at the church. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
Gary and Aurelia Washington, center left and right, the son and granddaughter of Ethel Lance who died in Wednesday's shooting, leave a sidewalk memorial in front of Emanuel AME Church comforted by fellow family members Thursday, June 18, 2015, in Charleston, S.C. Dylann Storm Roof, 21, was arrested Thursday in the slayings of several people, including the pastor at a prayer meeting inside the historic black church. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
CHARLESTON, SC - JUNE 19: (L-R) Sisters Margaret Kerry, Mary Thecla and Kathleen Lang of the Order of the Daughters of St. Paul pray outside the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church June 19, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina. South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley called for the death penalty for Dylann Storm Roof, 21, of Lexington, South Carolina, if he is found guilty of murdering nine people during a prayer meeting at the church Wednesday night. Among the dead is the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, the pastor of the church which, according to the National Park Service, is the oldest black congregation in America south of Baltimore. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
A group of women pray together at a make-shift memorial on the sidewalk in front of the Emanuel AME Church, Thursday, June 18, 2015 in Charleston, S.C. Dylann Storm Roof, 21, was arrested Thursday in the slayings of several people, including the pastor at a prayer meeting inside the historic black church. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
Olina Ortega, left, and Austin Gibbs light candles at a sidewalk memorial in front of Emanuel AME Church where people were killed by a white gunman Wednesday during a prayer meeting inside the historic black church in Charleston, S.C., Thursday, June 18, 2015. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Olina Ortega, left, and Austin Gibbs light candles at a sidewalk memorial in front of Emanuel AME Church where people were killed by a white gunman Wednesday during a prayer meeting inside the historic black church in Charleston, S.C., Thursday, June 18, 2015. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Rev. Sandy Drayton sheds a tear during a prayer vigil held at Morris Brown AME Church for the victims of Wednesday's shooting at Emanuel AME Church on Thursday, June 18, 2015 in Charleston, S.C. Dylann Storm Roof, 21, was arrested Thursday in the slayings of several people, including the pastor at a prayer meeting inside the historic black church.(Grace Beahm/The Post And Courier via AP, Pool)
State Senator Vincent Sheheen (D-Kershaw) gets emtional as he sits next to the draped desk of state Sen. Clementa Pinckney, Thursday, June 18, 2015, at the Statehouse in Columbia, S.C. Pinckney was one of those killed, Wednesday night in a shooting at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)
A man leans against a light pole as he visits a makeshift memorial down the street from where a white man opened fire Wednesday night during a prayer meeting inside Emanuel AME Church killing several people in Charleston, S.C., Thursday, June 18, 2015. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
President Barack Obama, accompanied by Vice President Joe Biden, pauses while speaking in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, June 18, 2015, on the church shooting in Charleston, S.C., prior to his departure to Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
COLUMBIA, SC - JUNE 18: South Carolina State Senator Joel Lourie (L) comforts Gerald Malloy in the senate chambers June 18, 2015 in Columbia, South Carolina. Legislators gathered Thursday morning to honor their co-worker Clementa Pinckney and the eight others killed yesterday at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)
Charleston police Lt. S. Siprko removes flowers from the backseat of a patrol car, Thursday, June 18, 2015 to a makeshift memorial in front of the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C. The alleged shooter, Dylann Storm Roof, 21, spent nearly an hour inside the church Wednesday night before killing six women and three men, then tried to outrun an all-night manhunt before a citizen in the next state spotted his car and tipped police, Charleston Police Chief Greg Mullen said. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
A unidentified man touches the Emanuel AME Church after placing flowers at a makeshift memorial on the sidewalk in Charleston, S.C., following a shooting Wednesday night in Charleston, S.C. Shooting suspect Dylann Storm Roof, 21, was captured without resistance in North Carolina Thursday after an all-night manhunt, Charleston's police chief Greg Mullen said. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
Tyler Francis, right, and Shondrey Dear pray together, Thursday, June 18, 2015 at a makeshift memorial near the Emanuel AME Church following a shooting Wednesday night in Charleston, S.C. Shooting suspect Dylann Storm Roof, 21, was captured without resistance in North Carolina Thursday after an all-night manhunt, Charleston's police chief Greg Mullen said. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
A man holds up a sign after a vigil outside Morris Brown AME Church June 18, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina. US police on Thursday arrested a 21-year-old white gunman suspected of killing nine people at a prayer meeting in one of the nation's oldest black churches in Charleston, an attack being probed as a hate crime. The shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in the southeastern US city was one of the worst attacks on a place of worship in the country in recent years, and comes at a time of lingering racial tensions. AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
An emotional Senate staffer Travis Norton, right, joins other staff members and members of Congress, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, June 18, 2015, during a vigil to mourn the shooting victims of Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC. (AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke)
People sit on the steps of Morris Brown AME Church while services are held June 18, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina. US police on Thursday arrested a 21-year-old white gunman suspected of killing nine people at a prayer meeting in one of the nation's oldest black churches in Charleston, an attack being probed as a hate crime. The shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in the southeastern US city was one of the worst attacks on a place of worship in the country in recent years, and comes at a time of lingering racial tensions. AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
People say a prayer outside Morris Brown AME Church during a vigil June 18, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina. US police on Thursday arrested a 21-year-old white gunman suspected of killing nine people at a prayer meeting in one of the nation's oldest black churches in Charleston, an attack being probed as a hate crime. The shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in the southeastern US city was one of the worst attacks on a place of worship in the country in recent years, and comes at a time of lingering racial tensions. AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
People sing 'We Shall Overcome' during a service at Morris Brown AME Church June 18, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina. US police on Thursday arrested a 21-year-old white gunman suspected of killing nine people at a prayer meeting in one of the nation's oldest black churches in Charleston, an attack being probed as a hate crime. The shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in the southeastern US city was one of the worst attacks on a place of worship in the country in recent years, and comes at a time of lingering racial tensions. AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
A parishioner has her bag checked by a sheriff's deputy before entering a prayer vigil at Morris Brown AME Church for the people killed Wednesday night during a prayer meeting inside Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., Thursday, June 18, 2015. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Members of the Senate walk to the chambers before a session, Thursday, June 18, 2015, at the Statehouse in Columbia, S.C. State Sen. Clementa Pinckney was killed, Wednesday, June 17, 2015, in a shooting at an historic black church in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)
The desk of S.C. Sen. Clementa Pinckney is draped in black cloth with a single rose and vase in an empty chamber prior to a Senate session, Thursday, June 18, 2015, at the Statehouse in Columbia, S.C. Pinckney was killed, Wednesday, June 17, 2015, in a shooting at an historic black church in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)
Sandra Bridges lays a greeting card at a makeshift memorial down the street from where a white man opened fire Wednesday night during a prayer meeting inside a historic black church killing several people in Charleston, S.C., Thursday, June 18, 2015. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Kim Hamby, right, prays with her daughter Kayla 4, as they lay flowers at a makeshift memorial down the street from where a white man opened fire Wednesday night during a prayer meeting inside a historic black church killing several people in Charleston, S.C., Thursday, June 18, 2015. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Noah Nicolaisen, of Charleston, S.C., kneels at a makeshift memorial down the street from where a white man opened fire Wednesday night during a prayer meeting inside the Emanuel AME Church killing several people in Charleston, Thursday, June 18, 2015. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
In this image taken from video on Thursday, June 18, 2015, Tarsha Moseley, left, Martha Watson, and Toby Smith pray at a makeshift memorial near Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C. A white man opened fire during a prayer meeting inside the historic black church Wednesday night, killing several people. The shooter remained at large Thursday morning. (AP Photo/Alex Sanz)
In this image taken from video on Thursday, June 18, 2015, Martha Watson, left, and Tarsha Moseley embrace at a makeshift memorial near Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C. A white man opened fire during a prayer meeting inside the historic black church Wednesday night, killing several people. The shooter remained at large Thursday morning. (AP Photo/Alex Sanz)
US Congressman Jeff Denham (C), R-California, prays with Senator Chris Coons (6th L), D-Deleware, Congresswoman Shelia Jackson Lee (5th L), D-Texas, Senator Chuck Grassley (4th L), R-Iowa, and Congressman Joe Wilson (3rd L), R-South Carolina, in front of the US Capitol in Washington, DC, June 18, 2015, during a moment of silence for the nine killed in a church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina. AFP PHOTO/JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama speaks about the shooting deaths of nine people at a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina, from the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC, June 18, 2015. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
A woman places flowers at a makeshift memorial near the Emanuel AME Church June 18, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina, after a mass shooting at the Church on the evening of June 17, 2015. US police on Thursday arrested a 21-year-old white gunman suspected of killing nine people at a prayer meeting in one of the nation's oldest black churches in Charleston, an attack being probed as a hate crime. The shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in the southeastern US city was one of the worst attacks on a place of worship in the country in recent years, and comes at a time of lingering racial tensions. AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
People visit a makeshift memorial near the Emanuel AME Church June 18, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina, after a mass shooting at the Church on the evening of June 17, 2015. US police on Thursday arrested a 21-year-old white gunman suspected of killing nine people at a prayer meeting in one of the nation's oldest black churches in Charleston, an attack being probed as a hate crime. The shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in the southeastern US city was one of the worst attacks on a place of worship in the country in recent years, and comes at a time of lingering racial tensions. AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
US Congressman Jeff Denham (C), R-California, prays with Senator Chris Coons (2nd L), D-Deleware, and Congresswoman Shelia Jackson Lee (L), D-Texas, in front of the US Capitol in Washington, DC, June 18, 2015, during a moment of silence for the nine killed in a church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina. AFP PHOTO/JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
People visit a makeshift memorial near the Emanuel AME Church June 18, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina, after a mass shooting at the Church on the evening of June 17, 2015. US police on Thursday arrested a 21-year-old white gunman suspected of killing nine people at a prayer meeting in one of the nation's oldest black churches in Charleston, an attack being probed as a hate crime. The shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in the southeastern US city was one of the worst attacks on a place of worship in the country in recent years, and comes at a time of lingering racial tensions. AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
A woman prays at a makeshift memorial near the Emanuel AME Church June 18, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina, after a mass shooting at the Church on the evening of June 17, 2015. US police on Thursday arrested a 21-year-old white gunman suspected of killing nine people at a prayer meeting in one of the nation's oldest black churches in Charleston, an attack being probed as a hate crime. The shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in the southeastern US city was one of the worst attacks on a place of worship in the country in recent years, and comes at a time of lingering racial tensions. AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Chaplain James St. John, center, leads senators in prayer, Thursday, June 18, 2015, at the Statehouse in Columbia, S.C. State Sen. Clementa Pinckney was one of those killed Wednesday night in a shooting at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)
US Congressman Jeff Denham (R), R-California, holds hands with Senator Chris Coons (2nd R), D-Deleware, and Congresswoman Shelia Jackson Lee (C), D-Texas, as they stand with Senator Chuck Grassley (2nd L), R-Iowa, and Congressman Joe Wilson (L), R-South Carolina, in front of the US Capitol in Washington, DC, June 18, 2015, during a moment of silence for the nine killed in a church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina. AFP PHOTO/JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 18: Members of the US House ofÊRepresentatives and members of the US Senate and staff gather in a prayer circle in front of the US Capitol to honor those gunned down last night inside the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston South Carolina, June 18, 2015 in Washington, DC. Police have arrestedÊDylann Roof, 21, of Lexington, South Carolina in the shooting that killed 9 people. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
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In a Facebook profile apparently belonging to Roof, a portrait showed him wearing a jacket emblazoned with the flags of apartheid-era South Africa and of the former Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, both formerly ruled by white minorities. Many of his Facebook friends were black.

Roof was arrested on two separate occasions at a shopping mall earlier this year for a drug offense and trespassing, according to court documents.

Roof's mother, Amy, declined to comment when reached by phone.

"We will be doing no interviews, ever," she said before hanging up.

Sylvia Johnson, a cousin of Pinckney, told MSNBC that a survivor told her the gunman reloaded five times during the attack despite pleas for him to stop.

"He just said, 'I have to do it. You rape our women and you're taking over our country," Johnson said.

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said her office was investigating whether to charge Roof with a hate crime motivated by racial or other prejudice.

Under federal and some state laws, such crimes typically carry harsher penalties, but South Carolina is one of just five U.S. states not to have a hate-crimes law.

RISING RACIAL TENSIONS

Demonstrations have rocked New York, Baltimore, Ferguson in Missouri and other U.S. cities following police killings of unarmed black men including Eric Garner, Freddie Gray and Michael Brown.

A white police officer was charged with murder after he shot Walter Scott, an unarmed black man, in the back in April in neighboring North Charleston.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which researches U.S. hate groups, said the attack illustrates the dangers that home-grown extremists pose.

"Since 9/11, our country has been fixated on the threat of Jihadi terrorism. But the horrific tragedy at the Emanuel AME reminds us that the threat of homegrown domestic terrorism is very real," the group said in a statement, referring to the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

There have been 4,120 reported hate crimes across the United States, including 56 murders, since 2003, the center said.

Other victims included three church pastors: DePayne Middleton Doctor, 49, Sharonda Coleman Singleton, 45 and Reverend Daniel Simmons, 74; Cynthia Hurd, a 54-year-old employee of the Charleston County Public Library, and Susie Jackson, 87; Ethel Lance, 70, Tywanza Sanders, 26, and Myra Thompson 59, an associate pastor at the church, according to the county coroner.

"This is going to put a lot of concern to every black church when guys have to worry about getting shot in the church," said Tamika Brown, who attended one of several overflow prayer vigils held at Charleston churches.

Police in Charleston responded to multiple bomb threats around the city through the course of the day on Thursday.

Three people survived the attack.

"It is a very, very sad day in South Carolina," Governor Nikki Haley, a Republican, in a tearful statement.

That grief rang hollow for some civil-rights activists, who noted that the state capital in Columbia still flies the Confederate flag, the rallying symbol of the pro-slavery South during the Civil War.

"The reality that racism is alive and well and that we have a problem with guns," said Clayborne Carson, founding director of the Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford University. "People will throw up their hands and say 'how terrible' and the governor of South Carolina will put the Confederate flag of the state at half staff and then will get back to passing more laws that allow people to carry guns."

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Charleston shooting - tweets, politician reactions, front pages, etc.
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White suspect arrested in killing of 9 at black US church
Senator Pinckney was my friend for over 20 years. I’m speechless, heartbroken and angry. God grant his family some peace right now.
Shocked & heartbroken by the murder of innocent people in #Charleston church. Praying for the victims & their families. #CharlestonShooting
My heart is with beautiful #Charleston this morning. Sending love and prayers to those affected by this tragic shooting.
Hard to comprehend the kind of hate that slaughters innocents in a church during bible study. Very heavy heart. #Charleston
NAACP's #Charlotte chapter announcing a prayer vigil for #Charleston today https://t.co/8amd9983NS
Prayers for #Charleston
Today's tragic front page. http://t.co/uPj4AOavhn #CharlestonShooting #PrayForCharleston #chsnews http://t.co/2qkCWHqu1M
Heartbreaking news from Charleston - my thoughts and prayers are with you all. -H
Our thoughts and prayers are with the individuals and families affected by the tragic events in Charleston.
Statement from South Carolina Gov. @nikkihaley on Charleston church shootings http://t.co/cdt2stkbkw
Dr. King at #EmanuelAME. #HistoricBlackChurch #CivilRightsMovement #CharlestonShooting http://t.co/Iu3ihGjQ2V
I'm praying #CharlestonShooting
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