*Dylann Roof, the 21-year-old man suspected of killing nine people at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church last night in Charleston, South Carolina, was captured during a traffic stop in Shelby, N.C., Charleston Police Chief Gregory Mullen said at a news conference.
Shelby police received a tip about a suspicious car in the area and arrested Roof without incident as he was driving northbound, Mullen added.
“I am so pleased that we were able to resolve this case quickly … so that nobody else is harmed by this individual who obviously committed a tragic, heinous crime in the city of Charleston,” Mullen said.
The Charleston PD and the Department of Justice are investigating the mass killing as a hate crime.
The DOJ’s Civil Rights Division will work with the FBI and local U.S. Attorney’s Office, as part of an investigation parallel with the state’s probe, Attorney General Loretta Lynch said Thursday morning.
Multiple outlets report the shooter attended the church’s Bible study Wednesday night for an hour before he opened fire.
Among the six female and three male victims was the church’s pastor, Rev. Clementa Pinckney, who was also a state senator. There were three survivors.
Sylvia Johnson, a cousin of Rev. Pinckney, tells MSNBC that one of the survivors told her the suspect was able to reload five times, and that the survivor’s son begged the shooter to reconsider what he was doing.
“I have to do it,” the suspect was alleged to have said. Johnson said the suspect further told parishioners he was there because, “I want to shoot black people,” and that blacks are “raping our women and taking over our country. You have to go.”
Dot Scott, president of the Charleston NAACP, told South Carolina newspaper, the Post and Courier, that a female survivor recounted to family members how the gunman told her he was letting her go so she could tell everyone what happened.
In a statement, NAACP President 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.”
A federal law enforcement official, who was not authorized to speak publicly, earlier told The Los Angeles Times that it appeared from the above surveillance images that the gunman may have been wearing a wig and a fake nose, and may even have dyed part of his skin.
The official also noted that the man was wearing a heavy sweatshirt on an extremely warm day in Charleston, and may have been dressed like that to hide a firearm. The shooter also appeared to be carrying a small backpack over his right shoulder which could have contained a weapon and ammunition as well.
While the manhunt intensified Thursday, Roof’s uncle told Reuters that he recognized the man in the surveillance photo as his nephew.
“The more I look at him, the more I’m convinced that’s him,” said Carson Cowles, 56.
Cowles told Reuters that authorities were at Roof’s home, and that his nephew had been given a .45-caliber handgun from his father for his birthday in April.