SC Shooting Suspect IDed, Told Victims 'I Have to Do It'

If Dylann Roof's the shooter, 'he's got to pay for this': man claiming to be his uncle
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 18, 2015 10:00 AM CDT
Church Shooter IDed, Told Victims 'I Have to Do It'
Photo of suspect Dylann Roof from a previous arrest.   (, via ABC News)

The FBI has identified the suspect in the Charleston church shootings as Dylann Roof, a 21-year-old with an arrest record, the Post and Courier reports. According to the SC Law Enforcement Division: Roof was jailed March 1 on a drug charge and on April 26 after being accused of trespassing. The profile picture on a Facebook account belonging to a Dylann Roof of Columbia resembles the suspect shown in a video released by police. A man who claims he's Roof's uncle apparently suspected his nephew was the shooter after seeing images from a surveillance video released by Charleston police. "The more I look at him, the more I'm convinced, that's him," Carson Cowles told Reuters by phone. He adds that Roof had seemed "adrift," as Reuters puts it, and that he thinks Roof had received a .45-caliber gun for his birthday from his dad. "If it is him, and when they catch him, he's got to pay for this."

A man outside of Medical University Hospital last night awaiting word on his grandmother, who was reportedly inside the church, told the Post and Courier, "What was this guy thinking? That dude shot a bunch of elderly people." When word came shortly after midnight about the victims' deaths, he fell to the ground and sobbed, the paper notes, saying, "Somebody better get that [expletive]." Meanwhile, a Justice Department spokesman speaking on condition of anonymity tells the paper a federal hate-crimes investigation has been opened. Sylvia Johnson, who says she's a cousin of state Sen. Clementa Pinckney, one of the victims, tells NBC News that one of the survivors told her the shooter reloaded five times and told her, "I have to do it. You rape our women and you're taking over our country. And you have to go." AME pastors are planning on holding a prayer vigil at noon EDT, with Gov. Nikki Haley and the Rev. Al Sharpton set to attend, per the paper. (Read more Charleston stories.)

We use cookies. By Clicking "OK" or any content on this site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. Read more in our privacy policy.
Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.