Police have arrested the suspected gunman in the fatal shooting of nine people at a historic black church in South Carolina on Wednesday, the mayor of Charleston confirms to The New York Times.
The FBI confirmed the arrest in a statement Thursday morning. Roof was arrested following a traffic stop in Shelby, North Carolina, Charleston police chief Gregory Mullen said in a statement. The alleged shooter had a handgun on him at the time of the arrest, according to media reports.
At a press briefing Thursday morning, Attorney General Loretta Lynch said, “I can confirm that there is a suspect in custody” in the South Carolina church shooting, according to the Associated Press.
Roof was identified by his uncle from a photo released by police, according to Reuters. The suspected shooter reportedly received a .45-calibre pistol from his father as a birthday present in April, the uncle said.
“He’s a monster, and they need to catch him, and he needs to pay for what he’s done,” the uncle, Carson Cowles, 56, told the New York Daily News.
“The more I look at him, the more I’m convinced, that’s him,” Cowles told Reuters.
The shooting is currently being investigated as a hate crime, according to local authorities. The gunman reportedly sat in a prayer meeting at the historically black Emanuel AME Church for an hour before opening fire. Witnesses have reportedly said the killer declared he was there “to shoot black people.”
Here was the scene in Charleston Wednesday night:
Images are beginning to emerge of Roof taken from an alleged Facebook page:
Charleston police spokesman Charles Francis said Wednesday night that the police were looking for a “white male in a grey sweatshirt/hoodie and jeans.” Surveillance video reportedly caught Roof and his vehicle on camera:
WCSC-TV reports the shooting happened while a meeting and a Bible-study service were taking place at the church. Six of the victims were female and three were male, authorities said at a press conference Thursday morning.
Among the victims was Pastor Clementa Pinckney, who was also a South Carolina State Senator. His cousin, Sylvia Johnson, told NBC News that she spoke with one of the survivors, who said the gunman reloaded his gun five different 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,'” Johnson told NBC News.
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