By Manny Otiko
A white domestic terrorist who massacred nine Black churchgoers Wednesday has been arrested in North Carolina. Police had earlier identified 21-year-old Dylann Storm Roof as the suspect in the Charleston, S.C. mass murder. They later reported Roof had been taken into custody in Shelby, N.C., a city about 245 miles from the scene of the alleged crime.
Charleston police released security camera pictures clearly showing Roof and the black Hyundai he was driving. The request for information seemed to work, because a sharp-eyed citizen called in a tip about a suspicious car. Roof was later arrested in a traffic stop and although he was considered to be “armed and dangerous,” was taken alive. He was arrested less than 24 hours after the attack occurred.
Roof appears to be a white supremacist who deliberately targeted the Emanuel AME Church because he wanted to kill Black people. He said he needed to carry out the attack, because Black people were “taking over the country” and needed to be stopped. Roof’s alleged attack was a clear act of terrorism. He planned out the attack, chose a historically-significant Black church, came armed with plenty of ammunition, and left survivors to serve as eyewitnesses to his crime. The .45 caliber pistol used in the attack was a gift from his father, according to his uncle Charles Cowles.
Roof was also pictured wearing a jacket with the flags of apartheid-era South Africa and Rhodesia, a country also founded on white-only rules. (Rhodesia is now known as Zimbabwe after Black natives won a Civil War.) He also had an ornamental Confederate flag on the license plate of his car, according to The Daily Beast.
Roof grew up in Lexington, S.C., and attended White Knoll High School, which has a mixed population, including Black students. Classmates remember him as being an unremarkable student and heavy drug user.
John Mullins who went to high school with Roof remembers his far-right political views and racist comments.
“I never heard him say anything, but just he had that kind of Southern pride, I guess some would say. Strong conservative beliefs,” Mullins told The Daily Beast. “He made a lot of racist jokes, but you don’t really take them seriously like that. You don’t really think of it like that.”