( 4UMF NEWS ) Suspect Named In Charleston Church Killings:
The FBI on Thursday identified the suspect in the killing of 9 people at an historic black church in downtown Charleston as Dylann Storm Roof, a 21-year-old from Columbia, S.C. area, according to news media reports.
A Facebook page for a Dylann Roof’ carries a photo of a young man in a bowl-cut haircut similar to the image in a surveillance photo outside the Emanuel AME church just before the killings Wednesday night. The page says he attended White Knoll High School in Lexington.
The Facebook page also carries a photo of Roof wearing a jacket with patches of the racist-era flags of South Africa and Rhodesia.
The reports on Roof’s identity are carried by Reuters and the Post and Courier, which quotes an FBI spokeswoman.
Lexington County, S.C. court records show Roof was arrested on March 2 on criminal possession of a controlled substance. The records indicate it may be a first offense. The case is pending. He was jailed in March in Lexington County on a drug charge and again on April 26 on a trespassing charge.
Police, beefed up by additional FBI agents flown in from Washington, appealed to the public Thursday for tips on the whereabouts the suspect, described as a lone white gunman.
The suspect sat with the Bible group for about an hour before pulling out a weapon and firing, reportedly reloading several times.
“This is an all-hands-on-deck effort with the community as well as law enforcement,” Charleston Police Chief Gregory Mullen said. “When people go out they should be vigilant, they should be aware of their surroundings. And if they see anything suspicious, they should call law enforcement.”
“No one in this community will forget this night,” said Mullen, who called the killings at the Emanuel AME church a “hate crime.”
In Washington, the Justice Department said its 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.
The nine victims — three men and six women — included pastor, Clementa Pinckney, 41, who was also a South Carolina state senator, State House Minority leader Todd Rutherford told The Associated Press.
Authorities said the gunman spent about an hour inside the church, mingling with the Wednesday night Bible study group before opening fire. Eight of the victims died at the church and the ninth died at a hospital. Three people survived, police said.
At point, as he was reloading, members of the group tried to get him to stop, Johnson told WIS News.
“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 said.
Dot Scott, president of the Charleston NAACP, said the gunman apparently allowed one woman to live so that she could tell others what happened inside the church.
Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley called the killings “the most unspeakable and heartbreaking tragedy.”
“The only reason that someone could walk into a church and shoot people praying is out of hate,” Riley said. “It is the most dastardly act that one could possibly imagine, and we will bring that person to justice. … This is one hateful person.”
Police issued photos of the suspect and his apparent getaway car, a four-door, black sedan.
The gunman, called “armed and dangerous,” was described as a white male in his early 20s, with sandy blond hair. He was wearing a gray sweatshirt with a yellow symbol on his left side.
The photo of the suspect, taken by a surveillance camera, indicated that he is about 5 feet, 9 inches tall, and sported a distinctive bowl-like haircut, possibly a wig.
The church is a historic African-American church that traces its roots to 1816, when several churches split from Charleston’s Methodist Episcopal church.
Community organizer Christopher Cason said he felt certain the shootings were racially motivated. “I am very tired of people telling me that I don’t have the right to be angry,” Cason said. “I am very angry right now.”
Pinckney, the 41-year-old pastor, was a married father of two who was elected to the state house at age 23, making him the youngest member of the House at the time.
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