Update: Everything We Know About The Charleston Church Shooting
Editor's Note: MTV News is updating this story as new information emerges.
As parishioners and the nation attempt to understand why someone would open fire during a church prayer meeting, police offered up some information about the alleged shooter, 21-year-old Dylann Storm Roof, and the timeline of the horrible incident. The shooting at one of the most historically significant Methodist houses of worship in the south, Emanuel African Methodist Church, left nine dead in a Charleston, South Carolina, church on Wednesday night and many unanswered questions.
10:00 p.m. North Carolina florist Debbie Dills is being praised for her help in catching Roof. She told CNN she recognized Roof’s car while driving to work Thursday morning and followed him while police confirmed it was the right car.
8:13 p.m. The City of Charleston has announced plans to host a prayer vigil on Friday night (June 19) at the College of Charleston TD Arena to honor the nine victims of the shooting.
7:53 p.m. Roof has been booked into Charleston County Jail under unspecified charges.
6:15 p.m. After waiving extradition during a short court appearance in Shelby, North Carolina, Roof was put on a plane to return to Charleston, where he will face charges.
4:01 p.m. Roof, wearing a bulletproof vest, is put into a police cruiser in order to be escorted back to South Carolina for his arraignment.
3:11 p.m. Charleston County Coroner Rae Wooten identified all 9 victims, which included Myra Thompson, 59 and the Rev. Daniel Simmons, whose deaths authorities described as "very violent." (For a full list of victims see below.)
2:58 p.m. John Mullins, a friend of the alleged shooter, told CNN that Roof -- who lives in Columbia, South Carolina, wasn't much of a loner, but someone who "mingled with all of the people." Mullins confirmed that Roof, who is white, had a number of black friends and there was no indication that he had any animus toward African-Americans, though he did sometimes "say things in a joking manner," and use racist slurs, "but it never seemed serious. That's why all this is a shock." Mullins said there were no signs of violence, but that Roof was a bit "wild" and did run with a druggy crowd.
1:08 p.m. "This is a tragedy that no community should have to experience," Charleston Police Chief Greg Mullen told the Post & Courier newspaper. "It is unfathomable that somebody in today’s society would walk into a church when people are having a prayer meeting and take their lives, and I can assure you that we’re going to do everything in our power to find this individual, to lock him up and to make sure he doesn’t hurt anyone else."
Roof appeared to be carrying a backpack in surveillance video that caught him entering the church, but no weapon is visible in that image.
12:21 p.m. President Obama spoke about the shooting in a brief press appearance. "Any death of this sort is a tragedy," he said. "There is something particularly heartbreaking about a death happening in a place where we seek solace, where we seek peace, in a place of worship." Obama noted that "Mother Emanuel," as the church is widely known, is more than a house of worship, but a church that was once burned to the ground because it's worshipers worked to end slavery.
The President, who was friendly with the church's leader and the only named victim, Rev. Clementa Pinckney (also a South Carolina State Senator), also used the opportunity to make a strong statement about his ongoing desire to more closely regulate firearms. "Once again innocent people were killed in part because someone who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a gun," he said.
12:18 p.m. The Post and Courier identified five of the other victims in the shooting based on information from people close to them. They included: Charleston County Public Library St. Andrews branch manager Cynthia Hurd, 54, single mother, track and field coach and Emanuel AME pastor Sharonda Singleton, mother of four and choir singer DePayne Doctor, youngest victim Tywanza Sanders, 26, a recent graduate in business administration from Allen University and longtime church workers and cousins Ethel Lance, 70 and Susie Jackson, 87.
12:10 p.m.: CNN reported that Roof's father had purchased a .45 handgun for his son's recent 21st birthday and that it matches the caliber of the gun found in his car when he was arrested. Because the gun was a gift and not directly tied to Roof, if the casings match those found at the sight of the crime it could tie the alleged shooter to the scene. South Carolina does not have a hate crime statute, but it does have the death penalty, which could be invoked should Roof be convicted.
11:45 a.m. Authorities announced that they had apprehended Roof in Shelby, North Carolina, nearly four hours from the crime scene after a citizen provided a tip about someone driving erratically. Police Chief Gregory Mullen said Roof was taken into custody with no resistance at 11:15 a.m. around 45 miles from Charlotte and 245 miles from the scene in Charleston.
11:20 a.m. Attorney General Loretta Lynch called the shooting at the church "heartbreaking" and "tragic" and said the Department of Justice had opened a hate crime investigation. "We stand ready to offer every resource, every means, and every tool that we possess in order to locate and to apprehend the perpetrator of this barbaric crime," Lynch said. "Acts like this one have no place in our country and no place in a civilized society, and I want to be clear, the individual who committed these acts will be found and will face justice."
Federal officials -- including the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, the FBI and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of South Carolina -- have opened a hate crime investigation into the incident since it took place in the 19th-century black church during a regularly scheduled Wednesday prayer meeting.
10:58 a.m. Reports emerge that Roof had a police record that included two arrests in S.C. this year -- on March 2 on a drug charge for possession of pills used to treat opiate addiction after employees at the Columbiana Centre mall mall called police saying Roof was asking odd questions about how many staffers worked in the mall and when the stores closed. He was banned from visiting the mall for a year after that incident, but was arrested there again on April 26 for trespassing.
10:05 a.m. The Berkely County Sherriff's department confirmed that Dylann Storm Roof, 21, was the suspect in the case.
9:00 a.m. A cousin of one of the victims spoke to a survivor, who told her that Roof reloaded five times during the spree and that he specifically asked for the pastor when he entered the church shortly after 8 p.m. on Wednesday. Roof also allegedly sat next to the aforementioned deceased victim, 41-year-old Rev. Clementa Pinckney, during the Bible study.
8:12 a.m. A female survivor whom Roof allegedly kept alive so she could report on the massacre to others told family that the alleged gunman first sat down in the church for up to an hour before opening fire. Three people survived the attack, which took the lives of six women and three men, all of whom were black. One of the survivors was described as a 5-year-old boy who played dead to avoid further fire from the shooter. At press time, police could not determine a motive, though witnesses recounted that he said he'd come to "kill black people."
7:05 a.m. "There is no greater coward than a criminal who enters a house of God and slaughters innocent people engaged in the study of scripture," NAACP president Cornell William Brooks said in a statement.
The church houses the oldest black congregation south of Baltimore and was founded in 1818 by worshippers fleeing racism. It welcomed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1966 during the height of the civil rights movement.