An unforgivable tragedy struck Charleston, South Carolina as nine individuals were shot dead during bible study at Charleston’s Mother Emmanuel AME Church. The gunman has been detained and identified as 21-year-old Dylann Storm Roof.
The Lexington native was arrested today at a traffic stop in Shelby, North Carolina. FBI agents and Charleston detectives have commenced questioning and evidence recovery. The United States attorney’s office has partnered with the city of Charleston as they move forward to the prosecution stage.
Dylann sat though about an hour of bible study last night before proclaiming that he wanted to kill black people. He then branished a weapon and started firing. Three men and six women were killed, including the church’s pastor and state Senator Clementa Pinckney. Dylann fled the scene of the crime in his car.
We can thank Dylann’s childhood friend Joey Meek for identifying the murderer. After watching video footage from the shooting, Joey courageously reported to authorities that he noticed a stain on the perpetrator’s jacket, a stain very similar to the one on his friend Dylann’s favorite jacket. With this information, police were able to track him down.
“That terrible human being who would go into a place of worship when people where praying and kill them is now in custody, where he will always remain,” says Charleston Mayor Joseph Riley Jr.
Meek’s mother told police that Dylann was “a really sweet kid. He was quiet. He only had a few friends.” It seems everyone who was acquainted with the boy shared a similar sentiment, which is odd considering his police records show a misdemeanor for trespassing in April and a drug-related felony in March.
White Knoll High reported that Dylann attended only the first half of his freshman year, after which he disappeared. When questioned, a surprised high school friend affirmed that Joey had black friends.
Although the Confederate flag on his license plate was acceptably normal in the state of South Carolina, the flags Dylann stitched onto his clothing were not. One was the white and green flag of the white-ruled country of Rhodesia (today Zimbabwe). The other flag represented South Africa’s former white-racist regime.
Despite what friends say, the evidence clearly shows his actions to be a hate crime. According to Richard Cohen, President of the Southern Poverty Law Center, Dylann’s actions are a stark reminder that “the threat of homegrown domestic terrorism is very real.”