Reports indicate that the 21 year-old Dylann Roof, the main suspect behind the mass shooting that killed nine people and injured several others at a historic African-American church in Charleston, South Carolina, has been captured.
Earlier the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation identified Roof as the main suspect in the massacre.
Photos of the alleged shooter, shared on social media, show him wearing patches of the flags of apartheid-era South Africa and the former British colony of Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe. Both states were founded on social-political systems premised on white supremacy.
That's the flag of apartheid-era South Africa on Dylann Roof's jacket pic.twitter.com/ex4cG15sVA— Jon Swaine (@jonswaine) June 18, 2015
Charleston police chief Greg Mullen said, “I do believe this is a hate crime,” according to the Washington Post, but he did not explain the basis for his conclusion.
The mayor of Charleston, Joseph Riley, concurred: "The only reason that someone could walk into a church and shoot people praying is out of hate," said Charleston Mayor Joseph Riley. "It is the most dastardly act that one could possibly imagine, and we will bring that person to justice ... This is one hateful person."
Mayor Riley also said "We will put all effort, we will put all resources and we will put all of our energy into finding this individual who committed this crime tonight." “This is the most unspeakable and heartbreaking tragedy,” said the Charleston mayor. “People in prayer, coming together, praying and worshiping God, to have an awful person come in and shoot them is inexplicable, obviously the most intolerable and unbelievable act possible.”
Senator Among Nine Dead
Among the three men and six women was Senator Rev. Clementa Pinckney, a church pastor and Democrat state Senator for South Carolina, who was attending a packed prayer meeting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church at the time of the shooting.
The Washington Post reported there were survivors to the attack, but police did not offer details as to how many or about their condition.
Chief Mullen stated Thursday morning that the dead included three men and six women.
The incident occurred at 9 p.m. local time at at the Emmanuel AME Church, between Henrietta and Calhoun streets near Marion Square in downtown Charleston. The church website says it traces its roots to 1816.
Police reportedly told local reports to back away from the scene of the crime, saying there was a bomb threat in place. Hate crimes are a rampant problem in the United States.