White suspect arrested in killing of 9 at black US church

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 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.
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)
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)
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)
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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
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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 ofÃRepresentatives 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 arrestedÃDylann 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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