UPDATE, 11:03am EST: Suspect has been identified as 21 year old Dylan Storm Roof.
CHARLESTON, SC – At 7:00am EST, Charleston police held their second press conference on the Emanuel AME shootings. Chief of police Greg Mullen confirmed the suspect sat through religious services, then stood up and ranted before shooting. “The individual was actually in the church attending a meeting that was going on there, and stayed almost an hour before the actual event.” He said.
He revealed three males and six females were killed during the incident, but declined to identify them.
“The coroner is working on getting all that information.”
Of the nine dead, eight died on scene, one in the hospital. “This is a very dangerous individual.” He said of the suspect, whom police are still looking for.
“From the time this call came in, we had resources coming from all over the East Coast. We’ve got more resources coming in this morning from the FBI and other agencies […] we are not leaving any stone unturned. This tragedy, that we’re addressing right now, is indescribable. No one in this community will ever forget this night, and as a result of that, and because of the pain and because of the hurt that this individual has caused this community, this entire community, the law enforcement agencies working on this thing are committed, and we will catch this individual.”
When asked of the suspect’s whereabouts, he said:
“We don’t have any information about any specific location. If we did, that’s where we would be.”
Mullen told residents of Charleston to remain vigilante as police attempt to hunt down the killer.
“What we’re doing is asking everybody to be vigilant […] Everybody needs to be aware of their surroundings. And if they see anything that’s suspicious, they need to call 9/11 and have them come out and investigate the situation.”
He added: ‘A broad perspective of media is here, social media, to help us.’ Indeed, social media has been buzzing with news and live updates of the situation. Twitter has been particularity busy with the hashtag #CharlestonShooting. A support group under #PrayForCharleston has also formed. At 5:02 am, the Charleston Police Department tweeted this wanted poster, showing images of the victim and his car taken from surveillance footage.
Anyone with information about this incident call 1-800-CALL-FBI. pic.twitter.com/EidJGhNEDp
— City of Charleston (@CityCharleston) June 18, 2015
When asked what evidence led police to believe the attack was a hate crime, Mullen said:
“There’s some information that has been developed in the investigation that has led us to believe that. We’re not releasing information now.”
He later added:
“If it is a hate crime, there’s specific elements that could make it a federal prosecution. One of things we look at is [… ] motivation. If it is, in fact, a hate crime, and in this case, there’s no doubt in my mind it is a hate crime, […] that allows us to work more closely with federal authorities.”
Among those killed was reverend and Democratic Senator Clementa Pinckney. As the U.S. wakes up to news of the tragedy, the massive outpouring of support for the victims and their families is continuing on social media.
— dianafalzone (@dianafalzone) June 18, 2015
Franklin Graham, an American evangelist, urged his followers to pray for the victims of the #AMEShooting.
— Franklin Graham (@Franklin_Graham) June 18, 2015
Grace Beahm, a photojournalist living in Charleston, posted this photo of visitors bringing flowers to church.
— Grace Beahm Alford (@GraceBeahm) June 18, 2015
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