Two days ago, the unimaginable happened. A mass shooting in a South Carolina church would go on to touch the lives of so many people — no matter the race — white or black.
The Final Moments
On the evening of Wednesday, June 17, a white male with blonde hair entered the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Equipped with a fanny pack and a .45-caliber handgun, the blonde-haired man took a seat and inadvertently observed the bible study for about an hour.
At around 9:00 p.m. EDT, Dylann Roof — who later was identified by authorities as the blonde-haired white male — got up from his seat and started firing, indiscriminately. After reloading nearly five times, Dylann finally emptied his ammo and ran off into the night.
It wasn’t until 9:05 p.m., when the Charleston Police Department responded to the first batch of 911 calls. When police arrived at the scene, they found nine of thirteen churchgoers dead — all were black — six women and three men. One account from a survivor recalled the horrifying last words that came out of the shooter’s mouth, when, at a moment’s notice, unveiled his pistol and began shooting.
“I have to do it. You rape our women and you’re taking over our country. And you have to go.”
This bold statement was directed towards 26-year-old Tywanza Sanders, who was killed almost immediately after questioning the shooter’s motives.
But it didn’t end there, this was only the beginning.
The Big Capture
A few hours after the shooter ran off, a bomb threat was called into a Marriott hotel nearby, muddling the investigation and causing an evacuation of the area. This threat temporarily hindered authorities from capturing the shooter. And it also gave Dylann enough time to pull off a clean getaway.
However, it didn’t happen.
With the attack being labeled as a hate crime, and the severity of the shooting, the FBI was called in to assist authorities with the manhunt and the crime scene. However, it wasn’t until the next morning, at 10:44 a.m. EDT, when authorities finally apprehended the shooter. Dylann was arrested following a traffic stop in Shelby, South Carolina, approximately 245 miles from where the shooting took place.
A tip-off led police to a black Hyundai Elantra, which also happened to have a three-flag “Confederate States of America” bumper decoration. Police instantly confirmed it was Dylann Roof’s Hyundai and even found the .45-caliber pistol in the vehicle.
According to the New York Times, Roof chose not to fight extradition and was flown back to South Carolina that same morning to be held at the Sheriff Al Cannon Detention Center in North Charleston.
How The World Is Reacting
If you’ve been anywhere on the internet or watched cable news on television, then there’s a good chance you’ve heard the words “racism,” “gun control,” and “terrorism.” However, it is perfectly safe to conclude that the Charleston church shooting was definitely of racist intent.
According to a roommate of Dylann, he told authorities that Dylann made tons of racist jokes and had strong delusional impulses to start a civil war in America. Friends and family members who were close to Dylann, have also validated this racist urge, in addition to describing him as being “introverted.”
Let’s not forget that the church that was shot up by Dylann, was one of the oldest black churches in the U.S. — having lots of civil rights history.
The horrific crime, derived by racism, has touched and angered the world, including celebrities, journalists, radio personalities, politicians, and even President Barack Obama.
Obama gave the following statement during a speech in Charleston, South Carolina.
“[I want] to express [my] deep sorrow over the senseless murders that took place last night. Michelle and I know several members of Emanuel AME Church. We knew their pastor, Reverend Clementa Pinckney, who, along with eight others, gathered in prayer and fellowship and was murdered last night. And to say our thoughts and prayers are with them and their families, and their community doesn’t say enough to convey the heartache and the sadness and the anger that we feel.”
The hashtag #BlackLivesMatter has been trending non-stop since its creation following the Trayvon Martin incident back in July of 2013. More people than ever are starting to come together and are also uniting as a whole, and not a race.
The Mayor of Charleston, Joseph P. Riley, Jr., also gave a comment after being briefed about the shooting.
“Of all cities, in Charleston, to have a horrible hateful person go into the church and kill people there to pray and worship with each other is something that is beyond any comprehension and is not explained. We are going to put our arms around that church and that church family.”
Additionally, Taylor Swift and Solange Knowles are among the many celebrities who have reacted to the Charleston shooting, the Huffington Post reports.
Moreover, the hip hop community has also expressed deep emotion in regards to the Charleston shooting. One of the most influential hip hop radio stations in the world, Hot 97, located in the heart of New York, have shared their emotional responses to the shooting. Ebro, a radio mogul in the hip hop world, teared up during an on-air discussion with its listeners.
In the past few years, shooting victims of racist intent, such as Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Freddie Gray, and Eric Garner, have all been crucial wake up calls for a change. And maybe now, as so many people have come together, regardless of race, that change will be coming.
[Photo Courtesy: Grace Beahm-Pool / Getty Images]