CHARLESTON, S.C. (Gray) - Police have arrested the man accused of gunning down members of a South Carolina church Wednesday.
Dylann Storm Roof (Source: FBI)
Dylann Storm Roof, 21, was taken into custody Thursday morning in North Carolina. He's accused of shooting 9 people at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston.
Roof has been charged with 9 counts of murder and possession of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime. A bond hearing was scheduled for 2 p.m. Friday.
According to Charleston Police Chief Greg Mullen, Roof attended a prayer meeting at the church Wednesday. He was there for about an hour before he allegedly opened fire on his victims, around 8:00 p.m.
"A white guy came in, sat down next to the pastor for a few minutes, and jumped up and said, 'I'm gonna kill ya'll n****s,' and started shooting," said Clifford Jones, a church trustee who was in the building just hours before the shooting.
"One lady was alive and he [the suspect] asked her, 'Did I shoot you?' And she said 'no.' He said, 'Good. I want you to go and tell the story.'"
According to some reports, the suspect made additional comments before he opened fire.
Roof left the church in a 4-door black sedan, seen in surveillance video. He was later stopped in Shelby, North Carolina, where he was taken into custody.
Three men and six women were killed in the church massacre, including the church's pastor, Rev. Clementa Pinckney. Pinckney was an active political voice and member of the South Carolina Senate.
President Obama said Thursday that he and the First Lady knew some of the victims, including Pinckney.
"To say our thoughts and prayers are with them doesn't say enough to convey the heartache and the sadness and the anger that we feel," said President Obama.
The President didn't offer details about the ongoing investigation, but was direct in his comments about the violence.
"I've had to make statements like this too many times," said President Obama. "Innocent people were killed in part because someone who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a gun."
"We as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries.'
Speaking to CNN's Nick Valencia Thursday, Charleston police spokesman Charles Francis said that the victims, "were killed because they were black."
Officials have called the massacre in Charleston a "hate crime." Federal authorities are investigating the case.
Statement: Nikki Haley, Governor, South Carolina
“Michael, Rena, Nalin and I are praying for the victims and families touched by tonight's senseless tragedy at Emanuel AME Church. While we do not yet know all of the details, we do know that we'll never understand what motivates anyone to enter one of our places of worship and take the life of another. Please join us in lifting up the victims and their families with our love and prayers.”
Statement: Lindsey Graham, U.S. Senator (R-South Carolina)
Note: Sen. Graham told reporters Thursday that his niece had attended elementary school with the suspect.
“Our prayers are with the families of the victims and the people of Charleston. We are all heartbroken by this tragedy.
“To the families of the victims, please know that you are being prayed for and loved by so many in the community and across the nation. I pray that God will provide you healing in the coming days.
“There are bad people in this world who are motivated by hate. Every decent person has been victimized by the hateful, callous disregard for human life shown by the individual who perpetrated these horrible acts.
“Our sense of security and well-being has been robbed and shaken.”