Nine people were shot dead during a Bible study group in Charleston, South Carolina, on Wednesday 17 June. Dylann Roof, a 21-year-old white male, shot and killed the nine African-Americans at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in what is believed to be a racially motivated attack.
Reports have emerged that Roof targeted the church, one of the United States’ oldest black churches and a civil rights symbol, in order to start a race war.
US President Barack Obama called the attack “senseless”, saying in a statement: “Any death of this sort is a tragedy … There is something particularly heartbreaking about the death happening in a place in which we seek solace and we seek peace, in a place of worship.”
Authorities are investigating a website containing a racist manifesto allegedly written by Roof. Excerpts reveal some of Roof’s motivation for the attack: “I chose Charleston because it is the most historic city in my state, and at one time had the highest ratio of blacks to whites in the country.”
Roof has been convicted of nine counts of murder and could face a death sentence or 30 years to life imprisonment.