Tuesday 22 August 2017

Dylann Roof (21) charged with nine counts of murder following attack on historic black church in South Carolina

Charleston, S.C., shooting suspect Dylann Storm Roof is escorted from the Cleveland County Courthouse in Shelby, N.C., Thursday, June 18, 2015
Charleston, S.C., shooting suspect Dylann Storm Roof is escorted from the Cleveland County Courthouse in Shelby, N.C., Thursday, June 18, 2015

Edward McAllister, Harriet McLeod and Alana Wise

A 21-year-old white man has been charged with nine counts of murder for an attack on a historic black South Carolina church, local police said on Friday, with media reporting that he had hoped his actions would incite a race war in the United States.

Dylann Roof is due to face a bail hearing later on Friday, where he will appear by video link and also face a charge of possession of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime, the Charleston Police Department said.

Dylann Roof is said to have held racist views and had two recent run-ins with police (Charleston County Sheriff's Office/AP)
Dylann Roof is said to have held racist views and had two recent run-ins with police (Charleston County Sheriff's Office/AP)
Police lead suspected shooter Dylann Roof, 21, into the courthouse in Shelby, North Carolina, June 18, 2015
CCTV footage shows Dylann Roof entering the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston Photo: Reuters
Massacre: Dylann Storm Roof

The charges come a day after his arrest in North Carolina, 220 miles (354 km) north of the nearly 200-year-old Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church where he shot dead nine black worshippers.

Read more here: Jon Stewart: let's call Charleston massacre what it was - an act of terrorism 

US officials are investigating Roof's attack, in which four ministers were killed including a Democratic state senator, as a hate crime. It came in a year of turmoil in the United States, where police killings of several unarmed black men has provoked angry national debates about race relations, policing and the criminal justice system.

Roof confessed to the attack and said he intended to set off new racial confrontations with his attack, CNN reported, citing a law enforcement source.

Charleston Police spokesman Charles Francis declined to comment on the reports of a confession.

 

Charleston residents Darby Jenkins (R) and his mother Ashley, look for a spot to leave flowers for the victims of Wednesday's shootings, near a police barricade in Charleston, South Carolina June 18, 2015. Police in Charleston were searching for a white gunman on Thursday who killed nine people in a historic African-American church, in an attack that police and the city's mayor described as a hate crime. REUTERS/Randall Hill
Charleston residents Darby Jenkins (R) and his mother Ashley, look for a spot to leave flowers for the victims of Wednesday's shootings, near a police barricade in Charleston, South Carolina June 18, 2015. Police in Charleston were searching for a white gunman on Thursday who killed nine people in a historic African-American church, in an attack that police and the city's mayor described as a hate crime. REUTERS/Randall Hill
Charleston police man a barricade behind the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, June 18, 2015. Police in Charleston were searching for a white gunman on Thursday who killed nine people in a historic African-American church, in an attack that police and the city's mayor described as a hate crime. Also pictured are residents' vehicles which are seen stuck in the cordon during investigation. REUTERS/Randall Hill
Charleston residents Darby Jenkins (L) and his mother Ashley, leave flowers for the victims of Wednesday's shootings, near a police barricade in Charleston, South Carolina, June 18, 2015. Police in Charleston were searching for a white gunman on Thursday who killed nine people in a historic African-American church, in an attack that police and the city's mayor described as a hate crime. REUTERS/Randall Hill
Police respond to a shooting at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina June 17, 2015. A gunman opened fire on Wednesday evening at the historic African-American church in downtown Charleston, South Carolina, and was still at large, a U.S. police official said. REUTERS/Randall Hill
A small prayer circle forms nearby where police are responding to a shooting at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina June 17, 2015. A gunman opened fire on Wednesday evening at the historic African-American church in downtown Charleston, a U.S. police official said. REUTERS/Randall Hill
Police respond to a shooting at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, June 17, 2015. A gunman opened fire on Wednesday evening at the historic African-American church in downtown Charleston. REUTERS/Randall Hill
Police vehicles are seen at the street of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, June 18, 2015. Police in Charleston were searching for a white gunman on Thursday who killed nine people in a historic African-American church, in an attack that police and the city's mayor described as a hate crime. REUTERS/Randall Hill
A car which police believe belongs to a suspect which police are searching for in connection with the shooting of several people at a church in Charleston, South Carolina is seen in a still image from CCTV footage released by the Charleston Police Department June 18, 2015. A white gunman was still at large after killing nine people during a prayer service at an historic African-American church in Charleston, South Carolina, the city's police chief said on Thursday, describing the attack as a hate crime. REUTERS/Charleston Police Department/Handout via Reuters ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS
A man reacts while talking to police officer near the scene of shooting at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, June 17, 2015. A gunman opened fire on Wednesday evening at the historic African-American church in downtown Charleston, South Carolina. REUTERS/Randall Hill
A Charleston police officer walks past the entrance of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, June 18, 2015. Police in Charleston were searching for a white gunman on Thursday who killed nine people in a historic African-American church, in an attack that police and the city's mayor described as a hate crime. REUTERS/Randall Hill TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A small prayer circle forms nearby where police are responding to a shooting at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, June 17, 2015. A gunman opened fire on Wednesday evening at the historic African-American church in downtown Charleston. REUTERS/Randall Hill

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley told NBC's "Today" show on Friday that she would prefer to see Roof tried on state charges and believed state prosecutors should pursue a death sentence.

"This is an absolute hate crime," said Haley, a Republican. "We've been talking with the investigators because we've been going through the interviews, they said they looked pure evil in the eye."

South Carolina is one of just five US states that does not have a hate crime law, which typically imposes additional penalties on crimes committed because of a victim's race, gender or sexual orientation.

President Barack Obama said Thursday the attack stirred up "a dark part" of US history and illustrated the continuing dangers of the nation's liberal gun laws, which gun-rights supporters say are protected by the Second Amendment of the US Constitution.

"After a tragedy we all get to sing and hold hands, but the elephant in the room is guns. South Carolina and the country have gone gun-crazy," said state Representative Wendell Gilliard, a Democrat who represents Charleston.

Read more here: Man accused of shooting dead nine people inside South Carolina black church 'had a plan' 

"How many times do we need to come together? How many times do we need to unite?"

The church, known as "Mother Emanuel," was founded in the early 19th century by black worshippers who were limited in how they could practice their faith at white-dominated churches. Burned to the ground in the late 1820s when one of its founders drafted plans for a slave revolt, the church was later rebuilt.

Compounding anger over the incident, the South Carolina capital continues to fly the Confederate battle flag, that was the symbol of the pro-slavery South during the US Civil War.

In addition to the church's leader and Democratic state Senator Clementa Pinckney, other victims included three pastors - DePayne Middleton Doctor, 49; Sharonda Coleman Singleton, 45; and Reverend Daniel Simmons, 74.

Also killed were Cynthia Hurd, 54, a public library employee; Susie Jackson, 87; Ethel Lance, 70; Tywanza Sanders, 26; and Myra Thompson 59, an associate pastor at the church, according to the county coroner.

Read more here: Race rants of suspected gunman 

Area residents, including a group of nuns, filed past the historic church early Friday that was the site of Wednesday's shooting. Many tearfully offered prayers and left flowers near the line of yellow police tape, behind which law enforcement agents continued to gather evidence.

Social worker Jermaine Jenkins, 25, stopped to pay his respects and said he believed the outpouring of public grief and support showed that Roof had failed in his goal of sparking fresh racial unrest.

"I don't think he will succeed in creating a race war," said Jenkins, who is black.

Read more here: Death penalty call over shootings

Read more here: Slaughter in church shocks America 

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