What We Know So Far:
- Several family members of the nine people Dylann Roof, 21, allegedly shot and killed at a historic black church in Charleston told him they forgive him during a dramatic court appearance on Friday.
- “I forgive you and my family forgives you,” a family member for Myra Thompson said at his bail hearing.
- Roof was denied bond for nine murder charges and was held on $1 million bond for a gun charge.
- Roof is suspected of fatally shooting three men and six women who gathered for a prayer meeting at a historic black church in Charleston Wednesday night.
- The Justice Department is reportedly investigating the shooting as an act of domestic terrorism. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch has launched a hate crime investigation into the attack.
- President Obama addressed the tragedy Friday, saying, “the apparent motivations of the shooter remind us that racism remains a blight that we have to combat together.”
- Officials said the shooter sat at the church meeting for an hour before opening fire.
- “There is absolutely no doubt in my mind this is a hate crime,” Charleston’s police chief said Thursday. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said she has launched a hate crime investigation into the attack.
Gov. Nikki Haley will address the removal of the Confederate flag from the State Capitol grounds in a 4:00 p.m. press conference, according to reports.
The demands for the flag to be removed from the South Carolina Capitol grounds have increased in the wake of the Charleston church shooting that left nine people dead.
Haley has scheduled a press conference for 4:00 p.m. EDT in the lobby of the State House and will reportedly meet with the S.C. Speaker of the House and the Senate president to discuss her plan for the Confederate flag, according to FitsNews.
Haley has previously stated while the Confederate flag is a “sensitive issue” it should not be removed because “not a single CEO” has complained to her about it.
Haley’s office did not immediately respond to BuzzFeed News’ request for comment.
Follow BuzzFeed News reporter Albert Samaha, who is in Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church for Sunday’s service.
The Mother Emanuel AME Church, in Charleston, South Carolina, where on Thursday nine people were gunned down during a Bible study, will reopen its doors on Sunday.
On Saturday members of the historic African-American church met in the room where their fellow worshippers were allegedly shot dead by 21-year-old Dylann Roof.
Many members and non-members are expected at Sunday morning’s service,
scheduled for 9 a.m. ET.
Harold Washington, who attended Saturday’s meeting, said the church would be open to all on Sunday.
“We’re gonna have people come by that we’ve never seen before and will probably never see again, and that’s OK,” Washington told the BBC. “It’s a church of the Lord — you don’t turn nobody down.”
On Saturday, people from across the country flocked to the vicinity of the historic black church to join a number of pastors in prayer.
Monte Talmadge, a 62-year-old army veteran, told the BBC he drove 300 miles to get to Charleston.
“There was an overwhelming feeling that made me drive here,” Talmadge said.
The shooting deaths of nine black people by a white man in a Charleston church on Wednesday night was not an act of terrorism, FBI Director James Comey said Friday.
Speaking in Baltimore, Comey said his agency is investigating the murders as hate crimes, but that he does not believe they meet the legal criteria for terrorist acts.
“Terrorism is act of violence done or threatened to in order to try to influence a public body or citizenry, so it’s more of a political act,” he said.
“Based on what I know so far I don’t see it as a political act. That doesn’t make it any less horrific… but terrorism has a definition under federal law,” he said.
The official FBI definition of terrorism defines it as “the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.”
Accused killer Dylann Roof talked about attacking a college campus a week before the Charleston massacre, a friend said Friday.
Christon Scriven told the Associated Press that he and Roof were drinking on June 10 when Roof revealed plans to go on a mass shooting at the College of Charleston.
However, Scriven, who is black, told the AP he thought his white drinking companion was just drunk. Even so, Scriven and another friend, Joey Meeks, were concerned enough that they hid Roof’s gun until they all sobered up, the AP reported.
His account bolstered a narrative discussed earlier by Meeks: that Roof had likely been planning the mass shooting for quite some time before carrying it out at Emanuel AME Church Wednesday night.
The county magistrate who presided over the bond hearing for Dylann Roof, a white man accused of killing nine people in a historic black church, has been publicly reprimanded in the past for using the N-word in court.
Charleston County Magistrate Gosnell received the public reprimand in 2005 in regard to another bond hearing.
“There are four kinds of people in this world,” Gosnell told an African-American defendant in 2003, according to the public reprimand by the state’s Supreme Court. “Black people, white people, red necks and n*****s.”
Gosnell told the defendant the statement was relayed to him by a veteran African American deputy.
The judge argued during his disciplinary hearing that he decided to tell the defendant the phrase “to encourage him to recognize and change the path he had chosen in life.”
Gosnell was also disciplined for trying to interfere when a fellow judge was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence — including personally calling a police lieutenant to have the judge released, and then driving to bond court so the arrested judge would not spend the night in jail.
President Obama on Friday called for a change in gun control laws in the wake of the Charleston massacre.
Speaking at the U.S. Conference of Mayors in San Francisco, Obama said gun violence “tears at the fabric of the community.” He also said that the Charleston shooting in particular reminds the nation “that racism remains a blight that we have to combat together.”
“When it’s poisoning the minds of young people it betrays our ideals and tears our democracy apart,” Obama said.
He then called for discussion about gun violence in the U.S., criticizing those who say any debate about the issue is a “plot to take everybody’s guns away.”
He also clarified earlier comments about not believing Congress would take action, pointing out that public opinion will be the ultimate driver.
“We have to move public opinion,” Obama said. “Ultimately, Congress will follow the people.”
He added: “We need a change in attitude, among everybody — lawful gun owners, those who are unfamiliar with guns. We have to have a conversation about it and fix this.”
During Dylann Roof’s court hearing Friday, the judge said reminded the audience that there were victims beyond those killed in the church shooting.
Judge James Gosnell said Roof’s family were also suffering as a result of the massacre, in which nine people were killed.
“We must find it in our heart at some point in time not only to help those that are victims, but to also help his family as well,” he said.
Dylann Roof’s family released an official statement Friday, saying they have been “touched by the moving words” from victims’ families.
“The Roof family would like to extend their deepest sympathy and condolences to the families of the victims,” the statement read. “Words cannot express our shock, grief and disbelief as to what happened that night.”
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of those killed this week,” the statement continued. “We have all been touched by the moving words from the victims’ families offering God’s forgiveness and love in the face of such horrible suffering.”
Charleston solicitor Scarlett Wilson announced that officials are now moving in to the prosecution phase.
Law enforcement is still investigating the shooting, but the focus is now shifting to the prosecution.
Wilson vowed to serve justice efficiently and effectively.
Family members of the shooting victims told Dylann Roof at his bond hearing that they “forgive” him.
The victims’ family members were given an opportunity to speak before the judge set Roof’s bond at $1 million for the gun charge.
The family members could be heard crying during the court proceedings.
A family representative for Susie Jackson said, “You hurt me, you hurt a lot of people. But god forgive you.”
“Repent,” began a family member of victim Myra Thompson. “I forgive you and my family forgives you.”
Felicia Sanders, who survived the attack with her granddaughter by reportedly playing dead — she is a relative of victim Tywanza Sanders — said, “We welcomed you Wednesday night in our Bible study with open arms.”
“Every fiber in my body hurts,” she said. “God have mercy on you.”
Video of the proceedings and family comments is here:
Watch live: Solicitor Scarlett Wilson’s press conference following a bond hearing for Dylann Roof.
Reporting by Jessica Simeone, Stephanie McNeal, Mary Ann Georgantopoulos, Tasneem Nashrulla, Tamerra Griffin, Ema O’Connor and Albert Samaha in New York; Claudia Koerner, Jim Dalrymple II, Salvador Hernandez, and Adolfo Flores in Los Angeles.