Police have identified the Charleston shooting suspect at Dylann Storm Roof, 21, of Eastover, S.C. Reports after 11 a.m. EST said he had been caught in North Carolina.
Officials said the shooter sat with church members in a Bible study meeting for an hour before opening fire. He reportedly said he wanted to kill black people before he started shooting, hence authorities investigating the massacre as a hate crime.
Six women and three men were shot to death, including pastor and state Sen. Clementa Pinckney, 41. All but one died at the church.
A federal law enforcement official told the Los Angeles Times that “it appeared from the surveillance images that the assailant may have worn a wig and a fake nose, and may even have dyed part of his skin.” The suspect’s nose isn’t the same shade as the rest of his face, and the hair is a heavy bowl cut.
He was wearing layers even though it was a hot evening in Charleston and was carrying a backpack. He drove a dark sedan.
He was driving a black Hyundai Elantra with South Carolina tag LGF-330.
The shooting was followed by a threat that the church would blow up in 86 minutes, but no explosives were found.
There were a handful of people who were in the church and survived the massacre. One woman said the shooter told her she was being spared so she could tell people what happened inside the church.
South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham (R) said in a statement “there are bad people in this world who are motivated by hate.”
“Every decent person has been victimized by the hateful, callous disregard for human life shown by the individual who perpetrated these horrible acts,” Graham said. “Our sense of security and well-being has been robbed and shaken.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who has a campaign rally planned for Saturday in Charleston, called the shooting “a tragic reminder of the ugly stain of racism that still taints our nation.”
“This senseless violence fills me with outrage, disgust and a deep, deep sadness. The hateful killing of nine people praying inside a church is a horrific reminder that, while we have made significant progress in advancing civil rights in this country, we are far from eradicating racism,” Sanders said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and their congregation.”
NAACP President and CEO Cornell William Brooks said “there is no greater coward than a criminal who enters a house of God and slaughters innocent people engaged in the study of scripture.”
“We are all trying to make sense of this senseless act. This is pure evil. It’s infuriating. Mankind’s capacity for evil is horrific,” Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said. “I’m enraged by this ungodly act and my heart breaks for these families. I hurt for them. Every American needs to take a few minutes today, and in the days to come, to pray for the families of those murdered last night.”