The Slatest

Dylann Roof’s Roommate Says Roof Had Been Planning an Attack for Months

People pray as they pay their respects in front of Emanuel AME Church on June 18, 2015, in Charleston, South Carolina.

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Update, 8:45 p.m.: Dalton Tyler, the roommate of Dylann Roof, told ABC News that Roof had been planning an attack like the one he carried out in Charleston for months. Roof had been “planning something like that for six months,” Tyler told ABC News. “He said he wanted to start a civil war. He said he was going to do something like that and then kill himself.”

Update, 4:30 p.m.: South Carolina authorities have released the names of the eight men and women killed in Wednesday’s attack along with Rev. Clementa Pinckney, whose death had already been reported. Among the dead are three other ministers, a 70-year-old grandmother who had worked at the Emanuel AME Church for 30 years, a librarian, and an 87-year-old woman.

Suspect Dylann Roof’s apprehension Thursday morning in North Carolina reportedly occurred after a florist driving to work recognized Roof and his car from news photos.

Update, 12:40 p.m.: President Obama, speaking at the White House, eulogized the victims of Wednesday’s massacre—and called on the country to acknowledge and address its epidemic of mass murders committed with firearms. Video:

From the president’s remarks:

Any death of this sort is a tragedy. Any shooting involving multiple victims is a tragedy. There’s something particularly heartbreaking about a death happening in a place in which we seek solace and we seek peace. In a place of worship. Mother Emanuel is in fact more than a church. This is a place of worship that was founded by African-Americans seeking liberty. This is a church that was burned to the ground because its worshippers worked to end slavery. When there were laws banning all-black church gatherings they conducted services in secret. When there was a non-violent movement to bring our country in line with our highest ideals, some of our brightest leaders spoke and led marches from this church’s steps. This is a sacred place in the history of Charleston and in the history of America.

The FBI is now on the scene with local police, and more of the Bureau’s best are on the way to join them. The attorney general has announced plans for the FBI to open a hate crime investigation. We understand that the suspect is in custody, and I’ll let the best of law enforcement do its work to make sure that justice is served. Until the investigation is complete I’m necessarily constrained in terms of talking about details of the case.

But I don’t need to be constrained about the emotions that tragedies like this raise. I’ve had to make statements like this too many times. Communities like this have had to endure tragedies like this too many times. We don’t have all the facts but we do know that once again innocent people were killed in part because someone who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a gun. Now is the time for mourning and for healing. But let’s be clear. 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. It doesn’t happen in other places with this kind of frequency. And it is in our power to do something about it. I say that recognizing that the politics in this town foreclose a lot of those avenues right now. But it’d be wrong for us not to acknowledge it. And at some point it’s going to be important for the American people to come to grips with it.

Update, 12:00 p.m.: Roof was caught during a traffic stop in Shelby, North Carolina, authorities say, and was reportedly armed with handgun when arrested in a black Hyundai.

A classmate of Roof’s told the Daily Beast that Roof “had that kind of Southern pride” and “made a lot of racist jokes.”

Update, 11:25 a.m.: Dylann Roof has been apprehended in North Carolina, multiple outlets report, apparently in the Charlotte area. Charlotte is approximately 200 miles from Charleston.

Dylann Roof. The flags on Roof’s jacket are from the colonialist African state of Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and apartheid-era South Africa.

Photo via Dylann Roof/Facebook

Update, 10:15 a.m.: Authorities have identified the suspect in the shooting as Dylann Storm Roof, a 21-year-old from Eastover, South Carolina, which is approximately 100 miles from Charleston. Roof appears to have been arrested at least once on drug charges. WISTV reports that he may be driving “a black Hyundai Elantra with South Carolina tag LGF-330.” According to Reuters, Roof’s uncle says Roof received a .45 caliber pistol as a birthday present in April.

Original post, 7:58 a.m. The white gunman who reportedly killed nine people and injured at least one other at a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina Wednesday night is still at large.* Police have called the incident a hate crime and say the suspect spent approximately an hour at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church’s Bible-study meeting before opening fire.

One of the reported victims of the attack was Rev. Clementa Pinckney, the church’s pastor and a South Carolina state senator. The names of the victims have not been officially released pending notification of their families.

The Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church was established in 1816. The church’s building was burned down in retaliation against a planned slave revolt in 1822, destroyed in an 1886 earthquake and rebuilt in 1891.

*Correction, 10:15 a.m.: This post originally misstated that three people had been reported injured but not killed in the shooting. At this point one person is known to have been injured but not killed.