CHARLESTON, SC –Authorities say just after 9 p.m Wednesday night 21-year-old Dylann Roof allegedly killed nine people at Emanuel AME Church in downtown Charleston.
Dylann Roof, 21, was arrested by law enforcement officials in Shelby, North Carolina Thursday morning.
According to witnesses, the suspect stood up and said he was there “to shoot black people.” A survivor told other media outlets that the shooter said, “You rape our women and you’re taking over our country. And you have to go.”
The suspect killed six women and three men.
According to officials, 8 people died at the scene and 1 died at the hospital. Among the victims was the church’s pastor, the Rev. Clementa C. Pinckney, 41, a Democratic member of the state Senate.
At a press conference on Wednesday night with Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr., City of Charleston Police Chief Gregory Mullen said “I do believe this was a hate crime.” The Charleston Police Department said that the shooting took place at 110 Calhoun St.
Chief Mullen addressed the recent violence in Charleston and said “We need the community to look at this and say: We have had enough of this violence and if we stand up together, we can stop this violence. And that’s what we need the community to do. I understand that people might be angry and I understand that people might be upset. And that is certainly emotions that we all understand but what we need to do is come together and help us, to one support the families, support our community and catch this person so he doesn’t hurt somebody else.”
“This is the most unspeakable and heartbreaking tragedy,” Mayor Joe Riley Jr. said early Thursday, saying the gunman had to be a “hate-filled person.”
Two press conferences were held on Thursday morning by the City of Charleston Police Chief Gregory Mullen and Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. At the 6 a.m. press conference, details about the suspect were released along with pictures of the suspect leaving the church and pictures of his vehicle.
Another press conference was held at 7 a.m. Thursday where Charleston Officials including SLED, Mayor Riley and Chief Mullen. Chief Mullen said as soon as police arrived at the scene, they found 8 deceased victims and 1 injured victim. The injured victim was transported to MUSC and died at the hospital. The suspect was in the church participating in the event for one hour before he opened fire. Officials said there were three survivors in the church after the shooting.
At the press conference, Mayor Riley said the suspect is “a no good, horrible person and we will see that he pays the price. We want to put our arms around that church and that church family.”
Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush, who had been scheduled to campaign Thursday in Charleston, canceled the events “due to the tragic events unfolding in South Carolina tonight,” his campaign said.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was in South Carolina campaigning earlier Wednesday but left the state before the shooting took place. “Heartbreaking news from Charleston – my thoughts and prayers are with you all,” she said in a Tweet.
Both Governor Nikki Haley and Senator Tim Scott have already released statements on shooting.
Gov. Haley said, “Michael, Rena, Nalin and I are praying for the victims and families touched by tonight’s senseless tragedy at Emanuel AME Church. While we do not yet know all of the details, we do know that we’ll never understand what motivates anyone to enter one of our places of worship and take the life of another. Please join us in lifting up the victims and their families with our love and prayers.”
Senator Scott said, “My heart is breaking for Charleston and South Carolina tonight. This senseless tragedy at a place of worship – where we come together to laugh, love and rejoice in God’s name – is absolutely despicable and can never be understood. Tonight we stand together in prayer for Pastor Pinckney and his congregation at Emanuel AME , and for the families who are enduring unimaginable pain at the loss of their loved ones. We will come together as a city and as a state to lift up those who need us most right now. I hope for their sake, and for the people of Charleston, that the perpetrators of this terrible crime are swiftly brought to justice.”
Here is how you can help the victims of the Charleston shooting:
Text a donation through the local company “bidder”. The text is free and all proceeds go to the Charleston shooting victims. All you have to do is text ‘Pray for Charleston” to 843-606-5995 or you can go on to their website www.bidr.com/prayforcharleston.
If you would like to help the families of the victims, donations can be sent to “Mother Emanuel Hope Fund” at any Wells Fargo Bank.