Dylann Storm Roof, 21, In Custody For Allegedly Killing 9 People At Historic Church


CHARLESTON, S.C. (CBSNewYork/AP) — A white man who joined a prayer meeting inside a historic black church and then fatally shot nine people was in custody late Thursday, captured without resistance after an all-night manhunt, Charleston’s police chief said.

As CBS2’s Dick Brennan reported, Dylann Storm Roof was wearing a bulletproof vest as he was escorted away by police Thursday. Investigators said they tracked him down 250 miles away, and across a state line, in North Carolina.

“We woke up today, and the heart and soul of South Carolina was broken,” said South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley.

Roof, 21, had spent nearly an hour inside the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church Wednesday night before killing six women and three men, including the pastor, police said.

The gunman was welcomed by the devout Christians gathered for Bible study. They had no idea he was holding a gun and a heart filled with hate.

“They believed he wanted to join them in this Bible study,” said Charleston Coroner Rae Wooten. “After joining them for some period of time, he, obviously, became very aggressive and violent, and it resulted in the deaths of these nine individuals.”

(Credit: Charleston Police)

(Credit: Charleston Police)

An eyewitness told authorities Roof stood up in the church and said words to the effect that he was there to shoot black people and made other derogatory remarks before opening fire, a law enforcement source told CBS News.

A citizen spotted his car in Shelby, North Carolina and tipped off police, Chief Greg Mullen said.

As CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported, Debbie Dills recognized the car from news coverage.

“And everything going through my mind was like, what if’s, what if’s,” Dills said. “But the only thing I could see was those people in Charleston and prayer circles with their hands gathered around praying — that their prayer would be answered.”

A .45 caliber pistol was found in his car when he was arrested, the source said. The gun was apparently purchased by his father for his birthday, according to the source.

A law enforcement source said that the caliber of shell casings recovered from the church matches the caliber of the weapon found in Roof’s car. But it was still not clear late Thursday whether that was the gun used in the shootings.

No other weapons were found.

“This is a very dangerous individual,” Mullen said earlier Thursday.

Roof’s childhood friend, Joey Meek, alerted the FBI after recognizing him in a surveillance camera image that was widely circulated, said Meek’s mother, Kimberly Kozny. Roof had worn the same sweatshirt while playing Xbox video games in their home recently.

Roof displayed a Confederate flag on his license plate, Kozny said, and in a photo on his Facebook page, he wears a jacket with stitched-on flag patches from two other defeated white-ruled regimes: Rhodesia and apartheid-era South Africa.

State court records show only one pending felony drug case against him and a past misdemeanor trespassing charge.

“I don’t know what was going through his head,” Kozny said. “He was a really sweet kid. He was quiet. He only had a few friends.”

Mullen said he believed the attack at the church was a hate crime. He also said officials believe Roof acted alone.

“Acts like this one have no place in our country,” Attorney General Loretta Lynch said at a news conference in Washington, where the Justice Department opened a hate crime investigation. “They have no place in a civilized society.”

President Barack Obama, who personally knew the slain pastor, state Sen. Clementa Pinckney, said these shootings have to stop.

“We don’t have all the facts, but we do know once again, innocent people were killed, in part, because someone who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a gun,” he said. “At some point, we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries. It doesn’t happen in other places with this kind of frequency.”

During a court appearance Thursday afternoon in North Carolina, Roof waived extradition. He also waived his right to counsel, meaning he will either represent himself or hire his own lawyer.

Roof was taken to a waiting police car wearing a bulletproof vest, with shackles on his feet and his hands cuffed behind his back. A short time later, law enforcement officers escorted him onto a private plane for the flight back to Charleston, CBS News reported.

Charleston County Sheriff’s Office officials told CBS affiliate WCSC-TV Roof will be held in isolation at the Al Cannon Detention Center.

Meanwhile in New York Thursday evening, a crowd gathered in Union Square for a vigil for those slain in the massacre.

PHOTOS: Union Square Vigil For Charleston AME Massacre Victims

And on Staten Island, faith leaders joined Borough President Jim Oddo to pray for the victims.

“Even though the bullets took them down, I believe the angels took them up, to be with God,” said Bishop Victor Brown of the Mount Sinai United Christian Church in St. George, Staten Island.

Earlier, Mayor Bill de Blasio held a moment of silence Thursday morning for the victims.

“I want everyone to know there’s no place in New York City for this kind of hatred,” he told reporters, including 1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa and WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb, at an unrelated event.

He said there was no specific evidence of any threats against local churches, but said the NYPD has increased resources directed at protecting African-American churches as a precaution.

“I am confident in the assurances I give our suffering brothers and sisters at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston that they have the love, prayerful solidarity, and condolences of the people, priests, deacons, and religious of the Archdiocese of New York,” said Cardinal Timothy Dolan. “God teaches that every human life is sacred; God’s house should always be a place of safety and peace. I ask that intercession for the wounded Christian community be part of our Sunday Masses this weekend.”

The Rev. Al Sharpton said he was “shocked and outraged” by the shooting.

“What has our society come to when people in a prayer meeting in the sacred halls of a church can be shot in what is deemed a possible hate crime?” he said.

Speaking in Harlem, Sharpton called the shooting “horrendous” and said it was “a new low in hate” in this country, 1010 WINS’ Al Jones reported.

“Race is still an issue in this country,” he said. “Hate is an even more deadly issue.”

He called for a national day of prayer for the victims.

In a tweet, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams called the shooting “an act of terror” and said he would be convening an emergency meeting with Brooklyn clergy to ensure churches are safe.

“That church was a victim of terrorism, and we need to be clear and identify terrorism when we see it,” Adams said.

As CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez reported, Adams called an emergency meeting with clergy and the NYPD to discuss safety measures to protect churches, synagogues and mosques. Counterterrorism officers urged the community to do their part.

“If there’s someone suspicious that you have a suspicious feeling about, call us – that’s a 911 call,” said Phil Van Gostein of the NYPD Counterterrorism Bureau.

As a precaution, the NYPD increased patrols outside houses of worship throughout the city, including the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem. While members said prayers of hope and healing, church leaders said they fear the same kind of violence could happen in New York.

“I think we need to tighten our security, because we want those who come to our church to be safe,” said the Rev. Calvin O. Butts, pastor of Abyssinian Baptist.

“This is a true testament of our faith, and in God there is no fear,” added Roz Beauty of Harlem.

Across the Hudson River, Richard T. Smith, president of the NAACP New Jersey State Conference, called the shooting is a wake up call for all Americans to stand up for tolerance.

“There still remains a tremendous amount of work to be done,” he told 1010 WINS’ Rebecca Granet.

Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. called the shooting “an unfathomable and unspeakable act by somebody filled with hate and with a deranged mind.”

‘Senseless Violence’

Pinckney, 41, was a married father of two who was elected to the state House at 23, making him the youngest member of the House at the time.

Another victim was identified by the Charleston County Public Library as Cynthia Hurd, 54, who was a manager of one of their regional libraries.

“Cynthia was a tireless servant of the community who spent her life helping residents, making sure they had every opportunity for an education and personal growth,” the library said in a statement. “Her loss is incomprehensible, and we ask for prayers for her family, her co-workers, her church and this entire community as we come together to face this tragic loss.”

Hurd’s brother, Malcolm Graham, spoke with Scott Pelley on the CBS Evening News.

“We were born and raised in Emanuel AME church, so it didn’t surprise me on a Wednesday night she would be there,” Graham said.

The other victims were Tywanza Sanders, 26; Sharonda Singleton, 45; Myra Thompson, 59; Ethel Lance, 70; Susie Jackson, 87; the Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr., 74; and the Rev. DePayne Middleton Doctor.

CBS NEWS: More About The Victims

Sanders had recently graduated from Allen University. Doctor was an enrollment counselor at Southern Wesleyan University’s Charleston Campus, according to a friend.

Singleton was a speech therapist and proud mother of a student athlete, Brennan reported.

The attack came two months after the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man, Walter Scott, by a white police officer in neighboring North Charleston that sparked major protests and highlighted racial tensions in the area.

The officer has been charged with murder, and the shooting prompted South Carolina lawmakers to push through a bill helping all police agencies in the state get body cameras. Pinckney was a sponsor of that bill.

“It is chilling to me that just over two months ago while I was in North Charleston over the police shooting of Walter Scott, I’m reminded that Rev. Pinckney was among the clergy who stood with me at that occasion and now he has fallen victim to senseless violence,” Sharpton said.

In a statement, Gov. Haley asked South Carolinians to pray for the victims and their families and decried violence at religious institutions.

“We’ll never understand what motivates anyone to enter one of our places of worship and take the life of another,” Haley said.

The Emmanuel AME church is a historic African-American church that traces its roots to 1816, when several churches split from Charleston’s Methodist Episcopal church.

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