President Barack Obama solemnly responded to the shootings at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, on June 17 that left nine dead.
“Once again, innocent people were killed in part because someone who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a gun,” Obama said at a press conference. "Now is the time for mourning, and for healing, but let’s be clear: 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."
Obama also touched on the church’s long history and ties to Charleston’s black community.
“This is not the first time that black churches have been attacked,” he said. “We know that hatred across races and faiths pose a particular threat to our democracy and our ideals.”
Six women and three men were killed in the shooting, including Rev. Clementa Pinckney, a state senator and pastor to the Charleston church, reports ABC.
Shooting suspect Dylann Storm Roof, 21, was captured on June 18 in North Carolina after a 14-hour manhunt, reports The New York Times. Police say Roof sat in during a prayer meeting at the church for an hour before the shooting began.
A relative of one of the victim’s alleges that Roof told the victims prior to the shooting, “You rape our women and you’re taking over our country. And you have to go,” reported CNN.
Attorney General Loretta Lynch confirmed in a press conference on June 18 that the Department of Justice has opened a hate crime investigation into the church shooting incident, reports NBC News.
The shootings at Emanuel AME Church marks ones of the deadliest shootings in a house of worship within the United States — it’s the largest mass shooting in a house of worship since 1991, reported The Washington Post.