UPDATE: An intense manhunt has ended for a man who joined a prayer meeting and then opened fire inside of a church in downtown Charleston, killing nine people, including the pastor. Authorities have caught Dylann Roof in North Carolina.
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (MEDIA GENERAL) – Dylann Storm Roof, a 21-year-old from Lexington County, South Carolina, is the suspect sought in the shooting death of nine people at a Charleston church.
First reported by The Post and Courier, Roof currently is out on bond in connection to recent arrests on drug and trespassing charges.
It is believed Roof attended a Bible study meeting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church on Wednesday, June 17, 2015, before opening fire on the conference room, killing six women and three men. The identities of the victims have yet to be released, however multiple outlets have confirmed the church’s pastor, Rev. Clementa Pinckney, who also was a state Senator, is among the deceased.
The incident is being investigated as a hate crime, according to the Charleston Police Department.
A survivor of the incident passed on details to Sylvia Johnson, Pinckney’s cousin, who spoke with WIS-TV. According to Johnson, Pinckney was seated next to the shooter, who sat through the Bible study meeting.
“At the conclusion of the Bible study, from what I understand, they just start hearing loud noises ringing out,” Johnson told WIS-TV.
According to the survivor, the gunman reloaded five times while victims tried to talk him out of firing more shots.
The survivor told Johnson the gunman said, “You rape our women and you’re taking over our country. And you have to go.”
Charleston Police believe there were 13 people inside the church at the time of the shooting: Nine victims, three survivors and the gunman.