The 21-year-old white male suspect was caught Thursday morning+ READ ARTICLE
The chief suspect in the fatal shooting of nine people Wednesday night at a historic black church in South Carolina, who was arrested in North Carolina, has arrived back in the state and will be held at a detention center, the city’s police department said Thursday.
Dylann Roof, the 21-year-old white man from Lexington, S.C., was identified by authorities on Thursday as the suspect. He reportedly spent an hour at a prayer meeting before opening fire, killing nine and injuring several others, at the Emanuel AME Church before fleeing. The Associated Press (AP) reports a florist driving to work saw a vehicle that matched the description of one publicized by authorities and then looked at the driver, whom she recognized from the news; the woman told her boss, who then contacted a police officer he knew, who then told the Shelby Police Department.
A spokeswoman for the Lexington County School District One confirms to TIME that Dylann Storm Roof, born April 3, 1994, attended White Knoll High School for less than two years, entering ninth grade in August 2008 and exiting in February 2010. He moved between at least three schools between fourth and eighth grades.
Roof was arrested twice earlier this year, according to the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department, which tells TIME he had been booked at the Lexington County Detention Center on Feb. 28 and April 26, after being arrested by the Columbia Police Department. Local reports have said he was arrested at least once on drug charges. NPR has published the incident reports from the February and April arrests, which took place at the Columbiana mall in Columbia, S.C.
A Facebook page in the name of Dylann Roof, featuring a photo released by Berkeley County authorities in South Carolina, suggests the suspect attended White Knoll High School and was from the city of Columbia.
In the picture featured on the Facebook page, he is wearing a jacket bearing images of the flags of apartheid-era South African and the Republic of Rhodesia, the name for Zimbabwe when it was run by a postcolonial white minority in the 1970s.
A man identifying himself as Roof’s uncle, Carson Cowles, 56, told Reuters that Roof’s father had recently given him a .45-caliber handgun as a birthday present. “I actually talked to him on the phone briefly for just a few moments and he was saying, ‘Well, I’m outside practicing with my new gun,'” he said.
Derrick Pearson, a former classmate of the suspect told the Independent that Roof “mostly kept to himself.” An AP report citing a man who identified himself as an old friend of Roof, named Joseph Meek Jr., said Roof had recently made racist comments against African Americans that had come out of nowhere.
Joseph Meek Jr, a childhood friend who apparently saw Roof on the morning of the shooting, told the AP that Roof had ranted that “blacks were taking over the world [and] someone needed to do something about it for the white race.”
Roof’s roommate Dalton Tyler told ABC News that the suspected shooter “wanted to start a civil war” and had been “planning something like that for six months.”
Roof has been taken into custody in Shelby, N.C., where he was “cooperative” with officers. On Thursday afternoon, AP reported, Roof waived extradition and was going back to South Carolina.