FBI identifies Dylann Roof, 21, as suspect in Charleston mass shooting

The FBI has identified 21-year-old Dylann Storm Roof as a suspect in the mass shooting at a historic African-American church in Charleston, S.C., according to multiple reports.

Denise Taiste, a Columbia, S.C.-based spokeswoman for the FBI, confirmed the suspect’s identity, The Charleston Post and Courier reported.


Roof is from the Columbia area and has been arrested twice in South Carolina as an adult, according to the state's Law Enforcement Division, the Post and Courier reported. 

In a picture on his apparent Facebook page, Roof is seen wearing a black jacket with what appear to be the flags of apartheid-era South Africa and colonial Rhodesia, both of which practiced racist segregation policies.

According to Reuters, law enforcement officers were at Roof’s mother’s home on Thursday morning.

Roof’s father gave him a gun for his 21st birthday, Reuters reported after a conversation with his uncle, 56-year-old Carson Cowles.

A Department of Justice representative said federal officials are launching a hate crime investigation into the fatal shooting on Wednesday evening that killed nine people.

"The investigation is parallel to and cooperative with the state's investigation," the representative said. 

The shooter allegedly attended an evening service at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston for about an hour before opening fire on other congregants.

Six women and three men were killed in the shooting, with eight people found dead at the scene. Another person died en route to an area hospital, according to area law enforcement officials.

Rev. Clementa Pinckney, the church’s pastor and a South Carolina state senator, was one of the victims.

Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley harshly condemned the shooting in remarks made on Wednesday evening.

“This is an unfathomable and unspeakable act by somebody filled by hate and with a deranged mind,” Riley said.

“We are going to put our arms around that church and that church family,” he added of Emanuel AME Church, a place of worship listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the oldest AME church in the South.

Charleston’s police chief said on Wednesday he had “no doubt” that the incident was a hate crime.

Authorities were “confident,” he added, that such charges were possible against the suspect.

— Julian Hattem contributed to this story.

— This story was updated at 10:41 a.m.