At least nine people, including a US State Senator, have been confirmed dead in a shooting by a white suspect with white supremacist sympathies. The shooting took place in a historic black church in the US state of South Carolina.
Among those dead in the shooting is Clementa Pinckney, a US State Senator and Pastor of a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina. He was among the nine victims killed by the terrorist who was reported to be wearing a jacket with flags of apartheid-era South Africa and nearby Rhodesia. Rhodesia was ruled by a white minority until it became Zimbabwe in 1980 after a civil war.
State Senator Pinckney was a Pastor at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, one of the oldest places of worship for African-Americans in the country. He was also a married father of two children.
Police have identified Dylann Roof as the white man suspected of killing nine people during the Wednesday night shooting.
One woman who survived the attack told the media that the gunman spared her life saying, “I’m not going to kill you, I’m going to spare you, so you can tell them what happened,” Charleston NAACP President Dot Scott told CNN.
It is believed that there were only three survivors from the attack.
Other witnesses have also reported the terrorist as saying “I am here to kill black people” and “You’re taking over our country. And you have to go.”
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, South Carolina is home to 19 known hate groups including two factions of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) and four “white nationalist” organizations. While Roof has not yet been directly linked to any of these organizations, authorities are describing it as a hate crime.
US Attorney General Loretta Lynch confirmed that the suspect has been arrested. He was captured on a highway 245 miles away from Charleston. Charleston Police Chief, Gregory Mullen, said Roof was taken into custody but did not elaborate on the circumstances of the arrest.
This shooting comes at a time where the persecution of black ethnic minorities in the United States has been making world headlines often animated with the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter.
President Obama addressed the terrorist attack in Charleston, South Carolina, saying that the massacre “raises questions about a dark part of our history.”
He added that “I’ve had to make statements like this too many times,” and “at some point we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other developed countries.”