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Police capture South Carolina church shooting suspect

The 21-year-old man suspected of killing nine people at a church in South Carolina has been taken into custody. Authorities have opened a hate crime investigation into the attack.

The gunman suspected of killing nine people at a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina, has been arrested, authorities said on Thursday. Identified as Dylann Roof, police captured him in North Carolina.

US Attorney General Loretta Lynch also confirmed that the suspect had been taken into custody.

Law enforcement officers were at the home of Roof's mother on Thursday morning, the according to Carson Cowles, the suspect's uncle.

Cowles said he recognized Roof in a photo released by police, and described him as quiet and soft-spoken. Roof's father gave him a .45-caliber pistol for his birthday this year, Cowles said.

A picture on Roof's Facebook page showed him wearing a black jacket with patches of the apartheid-era South African flag and the flag of white-ruled Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe.

Federal investigation underway

The FBI and the Justice Department civil rights division are currently conducting an investigation "parallel to and cooperative with the state's investigation," according to a Justice Department statement.

Charleston Mayor Joseph Riley Jr. called the shooting "an unfathomable and unspeakable act by somebody filled with hate and with a deranged mind."

Politicians expressed their condolences and support for victims and their families on Twitter.

Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church was built in 1891, making it one of the oldest black congregations in the region. The church leader, who was one of the victims, was Reverend Clementa Pinckney, who also served in the state senate.

The attack came two months after the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man, Walter Scott, by a white police officer in neighboring North Charleston, triggering major protests and highlighting racial tensions in the area.

glb/sms (AFP, AP)

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