By ARTHIA NIXON
President Barack Obama has confirmed the shooting in South Carolina at one of the nation’s oldest Black churches is being treated as a hate crime.
On Wednesday, it is alleged that Dylann Storm Roof entered the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina where members were gathered for prayer meeting.
After sitting with the group for over an hour, he allegedly opened fire shooting over a dozen people.
Before leaving, he told a woman he left her alive to tell the story. A five year-old child survived, telling police she pretended to be dead.
Sadly, nine people were slaughtered in their place of worship. The first victim to be identified was South Carolina State Representative Clementa C. Pickney. The beloved 41 year-old served as pastor at the church. The other victims were not identified up to press time, pending notification of next of kin.
Meanwhile, the shooter was apprehended peacefully the following day, and is said to be cooperating with police. What he said to witnesses at the crime scene has investigators treating it like a hate crime.
Upon learning the suspect was taken into custody following a traffic stop without incident, many took to social media to express outrage at how “a white man who killed 9 people and shot a child” was easily arrested, when so many unarmed Black people have been killed or permanently injured while being taken into custody.
“Michelle and I know several members of Emanuel AME Church,” said President Obama, in his address to the nation a day after the shooting. “We knew their pastor, Reverend Clementa Pinckney…And to say our thoughts and prayers are with them and their families, and their community doesn’t say enough to convey the heartache and the sadness and the anger that we feel.”
“ Mother Emanuel is, in fact, more than a church,” the President stated.
“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 worshipers worked to end slavery. When there were laws banning all-black church gatherings, they conducted services in secret. When there was a nonviolent movement to bring our country closer 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.”
Read the full story in the print edition of The Florida/Georgia Star Newspapers