Gunman in Charleston Church Shooting Identified

A lone gunman who killed nine members of a Bible study group at a historic Black church in downtown Charleston has been identified.

The FBI on Thursday identified the suspect as 21-year-old Dylann Storm Roof of Columbia, South Carolina according to USA Today.

Roof’s Facebook page has a photo of a young man in a bowl style haircut similar to the image in a surveillance photo outside the Emanuel AME church just before the killings Wednesday night.

The page says he attended White Knoll High School in Columbia.

The suspect sat with the Bible study group, mingling among them for about an hour before pulling out a weapon and firing. Reportedly, Roof reloaded several times.

“This is an all-hands-on-deck effort with the community as well as law enforcement,” Charleston Police Chief Gregory Mullen told the paper. “When people go out they should be vigilant, they should be aware of their surroundings. And if they see anything suspicious, they should call law enforcement. No one in this community will forget this night.”

The killings are being investigated by the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, the FBI, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office as a hate crime.

Pastor Clementa Pinckney, 41, was among the three men and six women killed. Pinckney was also a South Carolina state senator.

Three people survived.

Pinckney’s cousin, Sylvia Johnson said one of the survivors told her that the gunman reloaded fives times during the incident.

Johnson told WIS News that at some point, members tried to get the gunman to stop.

“He just said ‘I have to do it. You rape our women and you’re taking over our country. And you have to go,'” Johnson said.

Dot Scott, president of the Charleston NAACP, said the gunman apparently allowed one woman to live so that she could tell others what happened inside the church.

Police issued photos of the suspect and his apparent getaway car, a four-door, black sedan.

The gunman, who is considered armed and dangerous, was described as a white male in his early 20s with sandy blond hair. He was wearing a gray sweatshirt with a yellow symbol on his left side at the time of the shooting.

Anyone with information should contact the FBI and Charleston police immediately.