A white man was arrested on Thursday on suspicions he killed nine people at a historic African-American church in South Carolina after sitting with them for an hour of Bible study in an attack U.S. officials are investigating as a hate crime.
The mass shooting set off an intense 14-hour manhunt that ended when 21-year-old Dylann Roof was arrested in a traffic stop about 220 miles (350 km) north of Charleston, South Carolina, where the shooting occurred, officials said.
Wednesday's mass shooting at the almost 200-year-old Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, comes after a year of turmoil and protests over race relations, policing and criminal justice in the United States. A series of police killings of unarmed black men has sparked a renewed civil rights movement under the "Black Lives Matter" banner.
Four pastors, including Democratic state Senator Clementa Pinckney, 41, were among the six women and three men shot dead at the church nicknamed "Mother Emanuel," which was burned to the ground in the late 1820s after a slave revolt led by one of its founders.
The United States has seen a series of mass shootings in recent years, including the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, where a gunman killed 20 children and six adults. Democratic efforts to reform the nation's gun laws, protect by the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, failed after that incident.
A man who identified himself as Carson Cowles, Roof's uncle, told Reuters that Roof's father had recently given him a .45-caliber handgun as a birthday present and that Roof had seemed adrift.
"I don't have any words for it," Cowles, 56, said in a telephone interview. "Nobody in my family had seen anything like this coming."
Roof was armed with a handgun but surrendered peacefully at his arrest, said Charleston Police Chief Greg Mullen.
In a Facebook profile apparently belonging to Roof, a portrait showed him wearing a jacket emblazoned with the flags of apartheid-era South Africa and of the former Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, both formerly ruled by white minorities. Many of his Facebook friends were black.
Source: Reuters, June 18, 2015
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