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Officers arrest Charleston church gunman who was on the run

SUSPECT: 21-year-old Dylann Storm Roof is believed to have shot and killed nine church members

POLICE HAVE caught and arrested a man they believe to be responsible for the mass murder of nine black people in a South Carolina church earlier this morning (Jun 18).

The alleged gunman has been named as 21-year-old Dylann Storm Roof, and according to local media, he has been apprehended by officers.

Denise Taiste, the FBI spokeswoman, confirmed Roof's identity to this morning's mass shooting and described him as a resident of the Columbia area.

Roof is suspected of opening fire in the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church during a Bible study meeting. Eight people were killed at the scene, while a ninth person later died in the hospital.

The suspect’s uncle, 56-year-old Carson Cowles, told Reuters he recognised his nephew in the surveillance photos released by police.

“The more I look at him, the more I'm convinced, that's him,” Cowles said.

Cowles also shared that his nephew had been gifted a 4.5- calibre pistol gun by his father for his 21st birthday.

“Nobody in my family had seen anything like this coming,” Cowles said. “I said, if it is him, and when they catch him, he’s got to pay for this.”

He said he had told his sister, Roof’s mother, several years ago that Roof was too introverted.

“I said he was like 19 years old, he still didn’t have a job, a driver’s license or anything like that and he just stayed in his room a lot of the time,” Cowles said.

Witnesses said the gunman spent about an hour inside the church with victims before the shooting.

It is alleged that he explained to one victim that he would spare her life so that she could tell others of what had happened in the church.

Images of Roof circulating on social media show him wearing a jacket with the flag of apartheid era South Africa plastered on the front.

The attack has been treated as a hate crime that was racially motivated.

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