CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA – Law enforcement officials confirmed Thursday morning that 21-year-old Dylann Roof has been taken into custody in North Carolina after police said he walked into a South Carolina church and opened fire, killing nine people, during a bible study service at a predominately African-American church.
The shooting happened at the Mother Emanuel African Methodist Church just after 9 p.m. Wednesday night. According to police during a press conference Wednesday, nine people were killed in what police officials say they are investigating as a hate crime.
After the shooting, officials from the city’s police department were joined by other law enforcement, including the Federal Bureau of Investigations and the ATF, in an effort to find Roof, while the community of Charleston mourned the loss of nine churchgoers, including the church’s pastor, Rev. Clementa Pinckney, who was a democratic state senator in South Carolina.
Charleston Police Chief Gregory Mullen announced that Roof was arrested in Shelby, North Carolina during a traffic stop and that Roof was cooperative and taken in without incident. He added that federal investigators and local police are making their way to North Carolina to continue their investigation.
“This is an event will never forget,” Mullen said during a press conference Thursday morning. “We will continue to pray for the families and the victims of this tragedy.”
Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley, Jr. was thankful to the cooperation and aid provided by local law enforcement and federal partners in assisting with the timely capture of Roof.
“This awful person and terrible human being who shot people who were praying and killed them is now in custody, where he will remain,” remarked Riley. “His arrest was an important part of beginning the process of healing in this country.”
Riley added that a fund has been established named the Mother Emanuel Hope Fund to allow for the community and country to donate funds to those impacted by this shooting.
“The heart and soul of South Carolina is broken,” South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley said Thursday. “We are a strong and faithful state. We love our state, country, and each other. We are going to be lifting up these nine families in prayer because they need us.”
Haley added that she has been moved by the outpouring of emotion and sympathies from the community and all walks of life, including those from presidential candidates to visitors to the state.
“Every single person has had to put their selves in the shoes of those nine families,” Haley said.
Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe said in a tweet that both he and First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe are “praying for the victims, the families, and the #Charleston community affected by senseless violence.”
In a statement to the nation just after noon on Thursday, President Barack Obama said that he and First Lady Michelle Obama knew members of the church, including Pinckney, and remarked that “saying our thoughts and prayers are with the families and communities doesn’t cover the heartache, sorrow, and anger” that he and the nation feels after this tragedy.
“Any death of this sort is a tragedy,” the president said. “Any shooting that involves multiple victims is a tragedy. There is something particularly heartbreaking about this event happening at a place where we seek solace and worship.”
Mullen added that law enforcement is in the process of working to get Roof back in South Carolina following his arrest Thursday morning.
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