Alleged killer gunman captured
By Frederick H. Lowe
A white gunman who walked into an African-American church in Charleston, S.C., Wednesday night and shot and killed nine worshippers, attending Bible study, has been captured without incident even though police warned he was armed and very dangerous.
Charles Frances, spokesperson for the Charleston police department, said the alleged murderer Dylann Roof, 21, of Lexington, S.C., was arrested Thursday morning in Shelby, N.C. , for the deadly shootings at Emanuel AME Church.
Frances did not know the circumstances that led to Roof’s arrest, but other sources said Roof was apprehended during at a traffic stop, 240 miles from Charleston. Police had been tipped off by Debbie Dills, a florist, who recognized Roof’s car and his haircut. Dills called her boss who called police.
Roof will not be charged until he is in the custody of the Charleston police, Frances told NorthStar News Today.com. Police handled Roof’s arrest much differently than the arrest last July of an unarmed Eric Garner, who was choked to death by Daniel Pantaleo, a New York City cop, for selling loose cigarettes.
Eight of the victims died at the scene and one died in a hospital, said Charleston Police Chief Greg Mullen. One of the victims was pastor Clementa Pinckney, 41, a longtime state senator who spent the earlier part of the day campaigning in the city with Hillary Clinton. He represented the state senate’s 45th district. He was married and the father of two children. Pinckney was pastor of Emanuel AME Church in downtown Charleston,
The names of the victims now have been released by the county coroner. Six of the victims were women and three were men.
They were: Tywanza Sanders ,26, a 2014 graduate of Allen University with a degree in business administration; Cynthia Hurd, 54, a librarian and branch manager of the Charleston Public Library; Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, 45, a minister, high school track coach and speech therapist. She served as one of the pastors of Emanuel AME Church. Myra Thompson, 59, wife of Rev. Anthony Thompson, Vicar of Holy Trinity Reformed Episcopal Church in Charleston; Ethel Lee Lance, 70, an Emanuel AME church employee; Rev. Daniel Simmons, 74, a member of the ministerial staff of the church. He died at the hospital. Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor, 49. She was an enrollment counselor at Southern Wesleyan University; Susie Jackson, 87, cousin of Ethel Lee Lance and a long-standing member of the church.
The incident is being called a hate crime and a massacre. Mullen said the suspect attended the Bible meeting for an hour before standing up and firing his gun.
According to an eyewitness, he says that he has ‘to do it’ because black people rape our women’ and ‘are taking over our country,’ said Richard Cohen, president of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups.
Roof reloaded his gun, which was a present from his father for his 21st birthday, several times before fleeing.
Cohen said Roof admired apartheid, the separation of the races in South Africa.
“The only reason someone would walk into a church and shoot people that were praying is hate,” said Charleston Mayor Joe Riley.
At about the same time, there were reports of several bomb threats in the area.
The shooting occurred around 9 p.m. at the Emanuel AME Church.
Known as “Mother Emanuel,” the church is the oldest AME church in the South, having been founded in 1816 under the leadership of abolitionist minister Morris Brown, the second bishop of the AME Church in the U. S.
Security for black churches
The deadly shootings have angered African-American church officials. Rev. Anthony Evans, president of the Washington, D.C.-based National Black Church Initiative, said he is traveling to South Carolina to direct personally 682 churches on security measures for congregants and their families.
“This horrendous act follows a litany of brutal attacks on African Americans over the past several years across the United States,” Rev. Evans said.