Charleston, S.C., Church Shooting Suspect In Police Custody

Jun 18, 2015
Originally published on June 18, 2015 8:58 pm
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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

A community is stunned after a massacre last night inside one of the nations oldest black churches. Nine people were killed at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C. After a 14-hour manhunt, this announcement late this morning.

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GREG MULLEN: I am very, very pleased to announce that we have made an arrest in this case.

CORNISH: That's Charleston Police chief, Greg Mullen. Police say they believe Dylan Roof is the shooter. Georgia Public Broadcasting's Sarah McCammon is in downtown Charleston. And Sarah, how did police finally track the suspect down?

SARAH MCCAMMON, BYLINE: Well, Roof was arrested after a traffic stop in Shelby, N.C. Police say a citizen reported what they described as suspicious activity, and authorities quickly realized who this was and arrested Roof. They say that he did cooperate with the arrest, but those were some very tense hours here in Charleston with police asking for the public to be careful but also keep an eye out for the suspect.

CORNISH: And Sarah, what are you learning about Roof and about what happened at the church last night?

MCCAMMON: Well, he is from South Carolina. He's from Lexington, which is about a two-hour drive from Charleston. And he had a history of potentially troubling behavior, including trespassing and drug charges.

CORNISH: What more have you learned about the victims?

MCCAMMON: Well, we're starting to get more information about them. There were six female victims, three males. Among them was the church's pastor, State Senator Clementa Pinckney. He was 41 with a wife and two children, also Cynthia Hurd, the Charleston County Public Library regional branch manager, Ethel Lance, who'd worked at the church for 30 years and, of course, six others.

CORNISH: You've been traveling around the community today. What are people saying about the events of the last 24 hours?

MCCAMMON: Well, obviously this is a traumatic thing to have happened in any community, and I think it's been especially jarring to a lot of people that I've talked to that this happened at a church. I spoke to Lisa Doctor who lives in North Charleston, which is right next door, basically. She came downtown today to pray, and she says she considers this an act of terrorism.

LISA DOCTOR: This is a coward act, to actually go up in the house of the Lord and to shoot innocent people that is praying. That's a coward.

MCCAMMON: And I should add that this is being investigated, of course, still, and the Department of Justice says they're investigating it as a hate crime. The police chief here in Charleston has - says he has no doubt that this is a hate crime.

CORNISH: That's Sarah McCammon of Georgia Public Broadcasting in downtown Charleston. Sarah, thank you.

MCCAMMON: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.