Authorities are expected to extradite Dylann Storm Roof, the 21-year-old white gunman suspected of carrying out a shooting at a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina that left nine people dead on Wednesday night. Roof waived his extradition rights in a North Carolina court and is set to be taken back across state lines to Charleston, the Associated Press reported.
Video emerged Thursday afternoon showing Roof wearing a bulletproof vest as police escorted him out of a Cleveland County courthouse. According to a tweet from local news reporter Audrina Bigos at WCCB Charlotte, the suspect did not respond to reporter questions outside the courthouse.
Speaking on television earlier on Thursday, Loretta Lynch confirmed reports from authorities that Roof, of Lexington, South Carolina, was taken into custody. Lynch will oversee the Justice Department hate crime investigation into the incident that will be carried out by the agency's civil rights division, the FBI, and the US Attorney's Office.
"Acts like this one have no place in our country," Lynch said on Thursday.
While local media reported that Roof was picked up in Shelby, North Carolina, Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley declined to comment on the suspect's whereabouts, the New York Times reported. Roof's childhood friend, Joey Meek, recognized him in the surveillance photos released by the FBI on Thursday morning and alerted the FBI.
When the manhunt was underway, federal authorities released a mug shot of Roof that was first posted online on Thursday by local daily the Post and Courier. Earlier Thursday, police released photos of the gunman taken from surveillance video that shows a gray sedan, which cops believe the shooter might have used to flee the scene.
The shooting occurred around 9:30pm on Wednesday at the Emanuel AME Church — one of the city's oldest and most prominent black churches — where Martin Luther King Jr. once visited. Roof attended the meeting at the church and stayed for nearly an hour before the deadly gunfire erupted, Mullen said.
Roof has an arrest record and was out on bond for a drug-related charge. He has been to jail and beyond the pending felony drug case, he was also slapped with a misdemeanor charge for trespassing in the past.
According to Meek's mother, Kimberly Konzny, Roof had an affinity for white-ruled regimes of the past. His license plate had a Confederate flag on it, and photos online show the suspect with Rhodesia and apartheid-era South Africa patches on his jacket.
Eight people were found dead at the church and another person died later at the hospital, according to Mullen. The victims of the shooting included six females and three males, Mullen said on Thursday morning.
"I do believe this was a hate crime," Mullen told reporters, explaining that a false bomb threat complicated the initial investigation. "We were tracking the suspect with K-9s, trying to ensure the suspect was not in area to commit other crimes. We then received information that there might be a secondary explosive device at the scene. We were focused on ensuring the safety of not only responders at the scene, but all of you and members of the public."
House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford later confirmed that the church's pastor, 41-year-old state Senator Clementa Pinckney, was among the victims. In addition to Pinckney, the victims have been identified by Charleston County Coroner Rae Wooten as Cynthia Hurd, 54; Susie Jackson, 87; Ethel Lance, 70; Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor, 49; Tywanza Sanders, 26; Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr., 74; Rev. Sharonda Singleton 45; Myra Thompson, 59.
Wednesday's events have brought out strong condemnation from politicians and prominent figures across the country. NAACP President and CEO Cornell William Brooks called the shooting a "soulless act."
"There is no greater coward than a criminal who enters a house of God and slaughters innocent people," Brooks said.
In a press conference today, President Barack Obama called the act a tragedy, while highlighting issues of gun control.
"I've had to make statements like this too many times," Obama said. "Innocent people were killed in part because someone who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a gun."
"At some point, we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries," he added.
Mayor Riley said city police were being assisted by sheriff's deputies, the State Law Enforcement Division, and the FBI, according to the Post and Courier. Riley described the incident as "the most heartbreaking scene I have ever witnessed in my life," adding that "for this awful person to come in and shoot them is inexplicable and obviously the most intolerable and unbelievable act possible."
A photographer, Austin Rich, was detained at the scene and later released. He described the incident in a Facebook post.
The Emmanuel AME church is a historic African-American church that traces its roots to 1816, when several churches split from Charleston's Methodist Episcopal church, according to the AP. The church was burned to the ground after founder Denmark Vesey tried to organize a slave revolt in 1822. Parishioners worshipped underground until after the Civil War.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.