Nine people were murdered and several others injured in an attack during a Wednesday night Bible study at Emanuel AME Zion Church in Charleston, SC last night. Among the victims is the church’s pastor, the Rev. Clementa Pinckney.
The suspect in the mass killing has not yet been captured. Authorities have obtained security camera images of the attacker and his vehicle, which they released this morning.
— Saeed Ahmed (@saeed_ahmed) June 18, 2015
Here are larger versions of those photos.
Authorities still believe the attacker is in the Charleston area.
Very little information has released about the details of the attack, though the photo of the attacker suggests that he was not armed with a long-gun (rifle or shotgun). The suspect was in the church for an hour prior to the shooting without anyone expressing alarm, so we’re going to make the educated guess that the attacker concealed a large caliber handgun or handguns. The photos hint that the attacker may have been carrying a slung bag of some kind over his right shoulder as he entered the church, which may have concealed the weapon or weapons.
Concealed carry is illegal in churches in South Carolina without “express permission” of the church.
Three men and six women were among the victims. There are three survivors, including a child.
Authorities are treating the attack as a possible hate crime.
Update: Police have released higher-resolution photos of the suspect and his vehicle, which appears to be a Hyundai.
Update: Police have identified the suspect as Dylann Storm Roof. He’s 5’9″, 120 lbs. His 2000 Elantra GS has the SC plate LGF330.
Roof’s Facebook profile has been found.
Roof made a chilling statement just before opening fire.
[Emanuel AME Zion chruch pastor state Sen. Clementa] Pinckney’s cousin told WAFF-TV that the gunman specifically asked for the reverend before Bible study and sat next to him before opening fire. The cousin says survivors told her that the gunman told them, “You rape our women and you’re taking over our country. And you have to go.”
The same account said that roof reloaded five times during the attack.
The Daily Mail is reporting:
Roof’s uncle told Reuters that his nephew had received a .45 caliber pistol as a birthday present in April. He called the 21-year-old ‘quiet, soft spoken’ and said he recognized him in the photo released by police.
We do not yet know what model of .45 pistol that Roof received, nor has it been confirmed at this time that a .45 pistol was used in the attack.
An additional update on what might have blunted the deadly efficiency of Roof’s attack has been posted here.