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.”
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.