Wednesday 28 September 2016

US church to reopen after shootings

Published 20/06/2015 | 09:26

Dylann Roof appears via video before a judge in Charleston, South Carolina (Centralised Bond Hearing Court via AP)
Dylann Roof appears via video before a judge in Charleston, South Carolina (Centralised Bond Hearing Court via AP)
Mourners hold hands during the singing of We Shall Overcome at a memorial service for the victims of the shooting at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston (AP)
Barbara Lloyd, of Charleston, joins hands with mourners at a memorial service for the victims of the shooting (AP)

The historic black church where nine people were killed is to reopen for a Sunday service, as the FBI said it was reviewing a manifesto purportedly written by the suspected gunman.

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The website linked to Dylann Roof surfaced online today and contained photos of him holding a burning American flag and standing on one.

He was also seen holding a Confederate flag, flown by pro-slavery secessionist southern states during the American Civil War and now considered a divisive symbol by civil rights leaders and others.

The hate-filled 2,500-word essay talks about white supremacy and concludes by saying the author alone will need to take action.

It is unclear if Roof wrote it but the rants are in line with what he has told friends and what he said before allegedly opening fire inside the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church on Wednesday night.

Cleaners mopped up the crime scene today and some church members entered it for the first time since the shooting.

Harold Washington, 75, was with the group and saw the room the victims were shot in.

"They did a good job cleaning it up, there were a few bullet holes around but what they did, they cut them out so you don't see the actual holes," he said.

He said he expected an emotional service on Sunday, and a large turnout.

"We're gonna have people come by that we've never seen before and will probably never see again, and that's OK," he said. "It's a church of the Lord - you don't turn nobody down."

The church had that same welcoming nature when Roof walked in to their Bible study meeting, Felecia Sanders, who survived the shooting, said at Roof's bail hearing. She lost her son Tywanza in the attack.

A federal law enforcement official close to the investigation said the FBI is aware of the website linked to Roof and is reviewing it.

Internet registry records show that the website was created on February 9 via a Russian registry service with the owner's personal details hidden. A man who answered the phone at the Moscow-based company would not say who the site's owner was.

Roof is being held in jail, facing nine counts of murder and a weapons charge.

The victims included the Rev Clementa Pinckney, a state senator who doubled as the church's lead pastor, and eight others who played multiple roles in their families and communities: ministers and coaches, teachers and a librarian, counsellors and choir singers and the elderly sexton who made sure the church was kept clean.

A police affidavit accused Roof of shooting all nine multiple times, and making a "racially inflammatory statement" as he stood over an unidentified survivor.

Roof had complained while getting drunk on vodka recently that "blacks were taking over the world" and that "someone needed to do something about it for the white race," according to Joey Meek, who tipped off the FBI when he saw his friend on surveillance images.

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