Police Arrest Suspect in Charleston Church Shooting

Charleston, SC church shooting suspect Dylann Roof.

This April 2015 photo released by the Lexington County (S.C.) Detention Center shows Dylann Roof, 21. Charleston Police identified Roof as the shooter who opened fire during a prayer meeting inside the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., Wednesday, June 17, 2015, killing several people.

(Lexington County (SC) Detention Center via AP)

Police in Charleston, S.C., say they have captured a man they suspect opened fire and killed nine people during a Wednesday prayer meeting at one of the city's oldest historically black churches.

Police described the suspect as a white man in his 20s. He was seen entering the church before the shooting.

Police are calling the attack a hate crime, and they released stills from a security video that authorities say show 21-year-old Dylann Roof entering the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church about an hour before the shooting.

Roof, police said, sat with the congregation for about an hour before he opened fire at around 9 p.m. ET. He left the church in a black sedan, unleashing an overnight manhunt that involved local and federal law enforcement.

Police apprehended Roof during a traffic stop in Shelby, N.C., an almost four-hour drive from Charleston.

"It is senseless, it is unfathomable, that in today's society somebody would walk into a church, into a prayer meeting, and take lives," Charleston Police Chief Gregory Mullen said Thursday.

State Sen. Clementa C. Pinckney, who was also the senior pastor at Emanuel AME Church, was one of the people killed during the attack.

The President Pro Tempore of South Carolina's Senate, Hugh Leatherman, said Pinckney was "a strong advocate for his constituents, a great pastor and community leader, but most importantly, a cherished and loved husband, father and son."

He continued: "The victims were in a Bible study, learning the Word of God, in one of the most beloved institutions in our State whose roots go back to the dark days of slavery. What happened last night is incomprehensible."

Story source: NPR