The suspect who allegedly killed nine people at a historic African-American church in Charleston, S.C., uttered racial epithets before opening fire, according to multiple reports.

Sylvia Johnson, a cousin of one of the reported victims, said on Thursday that one of the attack’s surviving witnesses described the shooter's comments.


“I have to do it,” the shooter said, according to the account given by Johnson and reported by NBC News and other outlets.

“You rape our women, and you’re taking over our country,” he allegedly said. “And you have to go.”

Six women and three men died in the shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Church in downtown Charleston, S.C.

Dylann Storm Roof, 21, has been arrested in connection with the shootings.