As of Thursday morning, police are still looking for the suspect identified as Dylann Roof in a tragic mass shooting at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC that claimed the lives of 9 people including the pastor Rev. Clementa Pinckney.
The suspect, a clean-shaven white male in his early 20s with either light brown or sandy blonde hair, has not yet been apprehended, but police have released images of him and are urging anyone who can help to please come forward with any information. He was wearing a “very distinctive sweatshirt with markings.”
“This is an unfathomable and an unspeakable act by somebody filled with hate and with a deranged mind … this person is dangerous,” Mayor Joe Riley Jr. said at an early morning news conference. “We need every tip we can get to bring this person into custody.”
Charleston Police Chief Gregory Mullen chimed in with a plea for caution. “We do not want more people harmed to approach him or follow the vehicle,” Mullen said, adding, “because of the pain and the hurt that this individual has caused this community, this entire community … we will catch this individual.”
The shooting, which left at least nine dead at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, one of the nation’s oldest African-American churches, occurred Wednesday night at around 9:00. The church has a policy of “anyone is welcome,” and so the white male who entered would not have garnered too much attention before the chaos broke out.
“In Charleston, to have a horrible, hateful person go into a church and kill people there to pray and worship with each other is something that is beyond incomprehensible and is not explained,” Riley said.
Sylvia Johnson, the cousin of Rev. Pinckney is a member of the church and spoke to one of the survivors of the tragedy. “At the conclusion of the Bible study, from what I understand, they just start hearing loud noises ringing out … and he had already wounded, the suspect already wounded a couple of individuals,” Johnson said to WIS-TV.
A survivor told Johnson that the shooter reloaded five different times and that her son was trying to “talk him out of doing the act of killing people.” But he wouldn’t listen, according to the eyewitness.
“You rape our women and you’re taking over our country. And you have to go,” Johnson said the survivor told her.
The massive manhunt has pooled the resources of Charleston officials as well as the FBI and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.