A 21-year-old man suspected of fatally shooting nine people in a Charleston church on Wednesday night was captured, Thursday following a manhunt. Dylann Roof was taken into custody a few hundred miles from the scene of the crime in Shelby, N.C. during a traffic stop, according to police. The incident is currently being investigated as a hate crime. The shooting occurred at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church during Wednesday night bible study. The victims were between 26-87 years of age and included Rev. Clementa Pickney, the church’s pastor and a state senator.
Sylvia Johnson, one of Pickney’s family members, said a survivor recounted details of the tragedy with her, noting the gunman sat next to the pastor until the conclusion of bible study before opening fire on attendees, reloading five times. “He just said, ‘I have to do it. You rape our women and you’re taking over our country and you have to go,'” said Johnson, during a NBC News interview. Roof appears in a Facebook profile photo wearing symbols of white supremacy. According to The New York Times, Roof has been previously arrested for trespassing, possession of a controlled substance, and received a .45 caliber pistol for his birthday from his father.
President Obama gave a somber speech Thursday morning, offering support for victims, calling for gun control, and relating the Wednesday night shooting to the 1963 church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama, that killed four young girls. “We don’t have all the facts, but we do know that innocent people were killed in part because someone who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a gun,” he said during a White House news conference addressing the incident. “Now is the time for mourning and healing, but lets be clear; At some point, we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries. It doesn’t happen in other places with this kind of frequency and it is in our power to do something about it.”
Read more updates at The New York Times.