THE 21-year-old man accused of carrying out the shooting of nine people in a church in Charleston, South Carolina, Dylann Roof, wanted to start “a civil war,” his roommate has said.
The murder of nine black people in the Emanuel AME Church, which was established by the anti-slavery movement and has for more than a century been linked with the civil rights movement, has sent shockwaves through the US.
Roof’s roommate Dalton Tyler told ABC News: “He was big into segregation and other stuff. He said he wanted to start a civil war. He said he was going to do something like that and then kill himself.”
Facebook pictures of Roof wearing badges of the flags of Rhodesia and Apartheid-era South Africa have appeared in the media.
Vigils were held across the US last night (18 June) as the nation paid its respects to the victims: Cynthia Hurd, 54; Susie Jackson, 87; Ethel Lance, 70; DePayne Middleton-Doctor, 49; Clementa Pickney, 41; Tywanza Sanders, 26; Daniel Simmons, 74; Sharonda Singleton, 45 and Myra Thompson, 59.
President Barack Obama spoke from the White House, saying: “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. It doesn’t happen in other places with this kind of frequency – and it is in our power to do something about it.”
Jon Stewart, host of one of America’s most popular talk shows, used his programme to address what he said was the nation’s unwillingness to address the massacre as an act of terrorism.
“I heard someone on the news say, a tragedy has visited this church. This wasn’t a tornado. This was racist.”