A white gunman walked into a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina on Wednesday night. He sat in the prayer service for about an hour before he pulled a gun, opened fire and killed 9 people including the pastor who was also a state senator.
The gunman has been identified by the FBI as 21-year-old Dylann Roof of Lexington, South Carolina. He was apprehended Thursday morning in Shelby, North Carolina, about three hours away from the shooting site.
“This is a situation that is unacceptable in any society and especially in our society and our city,” Charleston Police Chief Gregory Mullen said.
Officials confirmed that three men and six women were killed in the shooting. The gunman reportedly reloaded five times during the assault.
Witnesses said that the pastor, Clementa Pinckney, tried to talk the gunman out of the attack. Sylvia Johnson, a cousin of the pastor who survived the assault.
“He just said, ‘I have to do it. You rape our women and you’re taking over our country,” Johnson said.
The incident is being investigated as a hate crime.
“The only reason that someone could walk into a church and shoot people praying is out of hate,” Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley said. “It is the most dastardly act that one could possibly imagine, and we will bring that person to justice. … This is one hateful person.”