A crazed lone gunman struck a church in Charleston, South Carolina, last night, killing nine people.
Here’s what we know about the story so far.
The suspect, who was captured 250 miles away in Shelby, North Carolina, earlier today, is identified as 21-year-old Dylann Storm Roof, a white man from Columbia who family members describe as a “quiet, soft spoken” person with few friends.
The shooting took place yesterday at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston.
All of the nine victims – three males and six females – were black, leading investigators to conclude the shooting was motivated by racial hatred, which prompted a federal hate crime investigation by the Justice Department, US Attorney’s Office and FBI.
Among those killed was Rev. Clementa Pinckney, 41, a South Carolina state senator and the pastor of the church.
The gunman is said to have used a .45 caliber pistol gifted him by his uncle, and killed all but one person, telling her to “Tell the world what happened.”
A 5-year-old girl also reportedly survived the massacre after following her grandmother’s advice to play dead.
When one of the victims pleaded with him to stop, the suspect allegedly responded, “I have to do it. You rape our women and you’re taking over our country. And you have to go.”
Prior to the shooting, witnesses claim they saw Roof sitting among the congregation for nearly an hour.
Photos online reveal the shooter had a jacket with two patches of South African flags associated with the Apartheid era. Another photo of Roof on the hood of his Hyundai Elantra also shows a frontside license plate featuring confederate state flags.
Roof also has a small online footprint, and suspiciously set up his Facebook account only this year.
Roof had been arrested twice this year on drug charges, and was currently out on bond. It also emerged Roof had been taking the pharmaceutical Suboxone, a drug linked with sudden outbursts of violence.
In the immediate aftermath, President Obama and Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. both issued statements blaming the Second Amendment for what took place, with many liberals clamoring for the disarming of white people.
“Several locations in South Carolina were subject to bomb threats Thursday afternoon in the wake of a shooting that killed nine people at a Charleston church Wednesday night,” reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.