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Charleston: US church massacre suspect is arrested

By AP Reporters

A white supremacist who joined a prayer meeting inside an historic black church in South Carolina and then fatally shot nine people was captured without resistance after an all-night manhunt, Charleston's police chief has said.

Dylann Storm Roof (21) spent nearly an hour inside The Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church on Wednesday night before killing six women and three men, including the pastor.

According to a witness, before Roof opened fire, he stood up and announced: "I have to do it. You rape our women and you're taking over the country. You have to go."

It was also reported that Roof, who was facing drugs charges, had been given a gun by his parents for his 21st birthday. On Facebook photos, he is wearing a jacket displaying the flag of apartheid-era South Africa and another of white-rule Rhodesia, now called Zimbabwe. A Confederate flag was on his licence plate

A citizen spotted his car in North Carolina and tipped off police, Chief Greg Mullen said.

Charleston mayor Joseph P Riley Jr called it "pure concentrated evil".

President Barack Obama, who personally knew the slain pastor, state senator Clementa Pinckney, said it highlighted the need for gun control.

"It doesn't happen in other places," he said. "At some point, we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries."

Mr Pinckney (41) was a married father-of-two who became the youngest member of the South Carolina state House when he was elected as a Democrat at 23.

"He had a core not many of us have," said senator Vincent Sheheen, who sat beside Mr Pinckney in the Senate. "I think of the irony that the most gentle of the 46 of us - the best of the 46 of us in this chamber - is the one who lost his life."

The other victims were identified as Cynthia Hurd (54), Tywanza Sanders (26), Sharonda Singleton (45), Myra Thompson (59), Ethel Lance (70), Susie Jackson (87); the Rev Daniel Simmons Sr (74), and DePayne Doctor (49).

Roof's childhood friend, Joey Meek, alerted the FBI after recognising him in a surveillance image, said Mr Meek's mother, Kimberly Konzny. "I don't know what was going through his head," Ms Konzny said. "He was a really sweet kid. He only had a few friends."

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