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Police Arrest Suspect In Charleston Church Shooting

  • An undated handout photo provided by the Berkeley County, S.C., government on Thursday shows 21-year-old Dylann Roof of Columbia, S.C. Roof has been identified as the suspect in a shooting at an African-American church in Charleston, S.C., on Wednesday.
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    An undated handout photo provided by the Berkeley County, S.C., government on Thursday shows 21-year-old Dylann Roof of Columbia, S.C. Roof has been identified as the suspect in a shooting at an African-American church in Charleston, S.C., on Wednesday.
    Berkeley County/EPA/Landov
  • Noah Nicolaisen, of Charleston, S.C., kneels at a makeshift memorial for the victims of the shooting. Police apprehended the lone suspect during a traffic stop in Shelby, N.C., an almost four-hour drive from Charleston.
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    Noah Nicolaisen, of Charleston, S.C., kneels at a makeshift memorial for the victims of the shooting. Police apprehended the lone suspect during a traffic stop in Shelby, N.C., an almost four-hour drive from Charleston.
    David Goldman/AP
  • Members of Congress gather in front of the U.S. Capitol during a moment of silence for the nine killed in the church shooting in Charleston. In a statement from the White House, President Obama meditated on the history of the church, which he called a "sacred place in the history of Charleston and in the history of America."
    Hide caption
    Members of Congress gather in front of the U.S. Capitol during a moment of silence for the nine killed in the church shooting in Charleston. In a statement from the White House, President Obama meditated on the history of the church, which he called a "sacred place in the history of Charleston and in the history of America."
    Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images
  • Chaplain James St. John (center) leads state senators in prayer 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.
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    Chaplain James St. John (center) leads state senators in prayer 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.
    Rainier Ehrhardt/AP
  • People view flowers on a road leading to the Emanuel AME Church the morning after the shooting in Charleston. Charleston Mayor Joseph Riley said the arrest is a part of the healing process that has just begun.
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    People view flowers on a road leading to the Emanuel AME Church the morning after the shooting in Charleston. Charleston Mayor Joseph Riley said the arrest is a part of the healing process that has just begun.
    Brian Snyder/Reuters/Landov
  • The steeple of Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., rises above the street as a police officer tells a car to move on Thursday as the area is closed off following Wednesday's shooting.
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    The steeple of Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., rises above the street as a police officer tells a car to move on Thursday as the area is closed off following Wednesday's shooting.
    David Goldman/AP
  • Police described the suspect as a white man in his 20s. He was seen entering the church before the shooting. The man, whom police consider to be "armed and dangerous," left the church in a black sedan.
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    Police described the suspect as a white man in his 20s. He was seen entering the church before the shooting. The man, whom police consider to be "armed and dangerous," left the church in a black sedan.
    Charleston Police Department/Reuters/Landov
  • Lisa Doctor joins a prayer circle down the street from the Emanuel AME Church. A gunman ultimately killed six women and three men. Three others survived.
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    Lisa Doctor joins a prayer circle down the street from the Emanuel AME Church. A gunman ultimately killed six women and three men. Three others survived.
    David Goldman/AP
  • Police close off a section of Calhoun Street near the Emanuel AME Church. Mullen said that law enforcement from all along the East Coast helped in the investigation and the FBI and the ATF came in from Washington, D.C.
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    Police close off a section of Calhoun Street near the Emanuel AME Church. Mullen said that law enforcement from all along the East Coast helped in the investigation and the FBI and the ATF came in from Washington, D.C.
    David Goldman/AP
  • Worshippers embrace following a group prayer across the street from the scene of the shooting. Mullen asked anyone with information about the suspect to call 1-800-CALL-FBI, but said that members of the public should not approach the suspect because he is "very dangerous."
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    Worshippers embrace following a group prayer across the street from the scene of the shooting. Mullen asked anyone with information about the suspect to call 1-800-CALL-FBI, but said that members of the public should not approach the suspect because he is "very dangerous."
    David Goldman/AP
  • Worshippers gather to pray in a hotel parking lot across the street from the scene of the shooting.
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    Worshippers gather to pray in a hotel parking lot across the street from the scene of the shooting.
    David Goldman/AP

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Updated at 5:30 p.m. ET.

Police in Charleston, S.C., say a man they suspect opened fire and killed nine people during a Wednesday prayer meeting at one of the city's oldest historically black churches has been captured.

This April 2015 photo released by the Lexington County (S.C.) Detention Center shows Dylann Roof, 21. Charleston Police say Roof opened fire during a prayer meeting inside the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., on Wednesday. i

This April 2015 photo released by the Lexington County (S.C.) Detention Center shows Dylann Roof, 21. Charleston Police say Roof opened fire during a prayer meeting inside the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., on Wednesday. AP hide caption

toggle caption AP
This April 2015 photo released by the Lexington County (S.C.) Detention Center shows Dylann Roof, 21. Charleston Police say Roof opened fire during a prayer meeting inside the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., on Wednesday.

This April 2015 photo released by the Lexington County (S.C.) Detention Center shows Dylann Roof, 21. Charleston Police say Roof opened fire during a prayer meeting inside the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., on Wednesday.

AP

Police are calling the attack a hate crime, and they released stills from a security video that authorities say show 21-year-old Dylann Roof entering the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Roof, police said, sat with the congregation for about an hour before he opened fire at around 9 p.m. ET. He left the church in a black sedan, unleashing an overnight manhunt that involved local and federal law enforcement.

Police apprehended the lone suspect during a traffic stop in Shelby, N.C., an almost four-hour drive from Charleston. Roof waived extradition during a court appearance in Shelby and will be headed back to South Carolina.

Charleston Mayor Joseph Riley said the arrest is a part of the healing process that has just begun.

"In America we don't let people like this get away with this dastardly deed," Riley said.

In a statement from the White House, President Obama meditated on the history of the church, which he called a "sacred place in the history of Charleston and in the history of America."

Police described the suspect as a white man in his 20s. He was seen entering the church before the shooting. i

Police described the suspect as a white man in his 20s. He was seen entering the church before the shooting. Charleston Police Department hide caption

toggle caption Charleston Police Department
Police described the suspect as a white man in his 20s. He was seen entering the church before the shooting.

Police described the suspect as a white man in his 20s. He was seen entering the church before the shooting.

Charleston Police Department

He said the Emanuel AME is a church that has seen tragedy in the past. It was burned to the ground because its worshippers wanted to end slavery. It's a place where civil rights leaders spoke and led marches in search for freedom.

Obama said it's a tragedy anytime Americans die in a situation like this, but it's especially heartbreaking when it happens "at a place where people are seeking peace."

Obama quoted a eulogy Martin Luther King Jr. delivered at the funeral service for three of the four children who were killed in the 1963 bombing of a Baptist church in Birmingham.

In death, King said, those three little girls told America "that we must be concerned not merely about who murdered them, but about the system, the way of life, the philosophy which produced the murderers."

At an earlier press conference, Charleston Police Chief Gregory Mullen said: "It is senseless, it is unfathomable, that in today's society somebody would walk into a church, into a prayer meeting, and take lives."

State Sen. Clementa C. Pinckney, who was also the senior pastor at Emanuel AME Church, was one of the people killed during the attack.

The President Pro Tempore of South Carolina's Senate, Hugh Leatherman, said Pinckney was "a strong advocate for his constituents, a great pastor and community leader, but most importantly, a cherished and loved husband, father and son."

He continued: "The victims were in a Bible study, learning the Word of God, in one of the most beloved institutions in our State whose roots go back to the dark days of slavery. What happened last night is incomprehensible."

Update at 3:27 p.m. Victims Identified

The Charleston County coroner identified the nine victims as Cynthia Hurd, 54; Daniel Simmons Sr., 74; Rev. Clementa Pinckney, 41; Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, 45; Ethel Lance, 70; Tywanza Sanders, 26; Myra Thompson, 59; Susie Jackson, 87; and Depayne Middleton Doctor, 49. All the victims, but Simmons, died at the scene. Simmons died in hospital.

Update at 12:28 p.m. ET. A Sacred Place:

Lisa Doctor joins a prayer circle early Thursday down the street from the Emanuel AME Church, following a shooting on Wednesday night in Charleston. i

Lisa Doctor joins a prayer circle early Thursday down the street from the Emanuel AME Church, following a shooting on Wednesday night in Charleston. David Goldman/AP hide caption

toggle caption David Goldman/AP
Lisa Doctor joins a prayer circle early Thursday down the street from the Emanuel AME Church, following a shooting on Wednesday night in Charleston.

Lisa Doctor joins a prayer circle early Thursday down the street from the Emanuel AME Church, following a shooting on Wednesday night in Charleston.

David Goldman/AP

In a short speech at the White House, President Obama said that he was restrained by what he could say about the facts of case, but he was not constrained by emotion.

Obama said that it is tragic anytime Americans die in a situation like this. But it is especially heartbreaking when it happens "at a place where people are seeking peace."

He said the Emanuel AME is a church that has seen tragedy in the past. It was burned to the ground because its worshippers wanted to end slavery. It's a place where civil rights leaders spoke and led marches in search for freedom.

"This is a sacred place in the history of Charleston and in the history of America," Obama said.

Today, he said, marks another attempt against a black church in the United States. And like this church, and others like it, have rebuilt in the past, Mother Emanuel "will rise again, now."

Update at 12 p.m. ET. Tip Led To Arrest:

During a news conference, Charleston Police Chief Gregory Mullen said a civilian called police to report suspicious activity.

Police followed up on the tip and quickly figured out that they were dealing with shooting suspect Dylann Roof, who was arrested without incident.

Mullen, who would not comment on whether Roof had any weapons on him, said that Roof was cooperative.

Mullen said that police had yet to determine a motive.

Update at 11:13 a.m. ET. Barbaric Crime:

Attorney General Loretta Lynch called the shooting in Charleston a "barbaric crime."

"Acts like this one have no place in our country and no place in a civilized society," she said.

Lynch said that federal authorities are working closely with local authorities to try to apprehend the suspect.

President Obama is expected to make a statement at 11:45 a.m. ET.

Update at 11:10 a.m. ET. Two Previous Arrests:

A search of public records finds that Dylann Roof had two recent court cases against him — one for trespassing, one for drug possession.

Update at 10:33 a.m. ET. Suspect Identified:

The city of Charleston said police have named a suspect: 21-year-old Dylann Roof.

"The vehicle he may be driving is a black Hyundai with vehicle tag LGF330. Anyone with information about his location call 1-800-CALL-FBI," the city said in a statement.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks extremist groups, tweeted a photograph of the suspect sporting a jacket with what appears to be the flag for "white-rule Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe."

Another patch on the jacket, the SPLC says, shows a South African apartheid era flag.

Update at 9:35 a.m. ET. A 'Beloved Senator':

The President Pro Tempore of South Carolina Senate, Hugh Leatherman, said Sen. Pinckney was a "beloved" public servant.

"Senator Clementa C. Pinckney was a leader in the Senate of South Carolina, a strong advocate for his constituents, a great pastor and community leader, but most importantly, a cherished and loved husband, father and son," Leatherman said in a statement. "The entire Senate of South Carolina extends our love and sympathy to Jennifer, Eliana, Malana, and to the rest of his family."

Update at 9:05 a.m. ET. State Senator Among Those Killed:

State Sen. Clementa C. Pinckney, who was also the senior pastor at Emanuel AME Church, was one of the people killed during the attack, according to multiple news outlets as well as the chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party.

The Post And Courier reports:

"Pinckney, 41, is married and has two children. He was a Democratic member of the S.C. Senate.

"State Rep. Wendell Gilliard said he visited with Pinckney's wife and two daughters after the shooting. He said she is 'surrounded by friends.'

"Gilliard arrived at the scene Wednesday night, hearing chatter that Pinckney was killed by the gunman. 'I did not want that to be true; I prayed it wasn't true.'"

Update at 8:43 a.m. ET. Federal Hate Crime Investigation:

NPR's Carrie Johnson reports that:

"The Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, the FBI, and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of South Carolina are opening a hate crime investigation into the shooting that took place at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC. The investigation is parallel to and cooperative with the state's investigation."

Update at 7:17 a.m. ET. Suspect Sat With Congregation For An Hour:

During a press conference just minutes ago, Charleston Police Chief Gregory Mullen said the suspect sat with the congregation in prayer for about an hour before opening fire.

The suspect ultimately killed 9 people — six females and three males. Three others survived.

Mullen said that law enforcement from all along the East Coast are helping in the investigation and the FBI and the ATF have come in from D.C.

"This tragedy that we're addressing right now is indescribable," Mullen said. "No one in this community will ever forget this night ... and because of the pain and the hurt this individual has caused this community ... the law enforcement officials working on this are committed and we will catch this individual."

Mullen called on anyone with information about the suspect to call 1-800-Call-FBI, but said that they should not approach the suspect because he is "very dangerous."

Charleston Mayor Joseph Riley Jr. said that last night that he and the police chief "hugged as many" of the victims' families as they could. He said they saw weeping mothers, fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers.

Riley said this attack has ripped a part of the community's fabric forever.

"But we will work to heal them, to love them and support them in that church as long as we live," Riley said.

Update at 6:50 a.m. ET. What Happened?

According to The Post and Courier of Charleston, a gunman entered the church on Wednesday evening, as members of the church gathered for a prayer meeting.

The paper reports:

"A female survivor told family members that the gunman initially sat down in the church for a bit before standing up and opening fire, according to Dot Scott, president of the Charleston NAACP.

"The gunman reportedly told the woman he was letting her live so she could tell everyone else what happened, Scott said."

The Emanuel AME Church website says that church is the oldest African Methodist Episcopal church in the South. "Emanuel has one of the largest and oldest black congregations south of Baltimore, Maryland," the website says.

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