Shooting in Charleston, South Carolina

There are no immediate threats to New Jersey resulting from last night’s shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, which claimed the lives of nine people. As of 1200 today, the suspect, 21-year old Dylann Storm Roof of Columbia, South Carolina, was arrested in Shelby, North Carolina. The stop was initiated after a citizen saw the suspect’s car and reported it to law enforcement. According to local media, Roof has a history of arrests on drug and trespassing charges.

  • The shooting occurred last night at around 2100. Eight individuals were found dead at the scene, and a ninth victim later died; three of the victims were male and six were female. Three people survived the attack. The Reverend of the church, Clementa Pinckney, was among those killed; the Reverend was also a member of the South Carolina State Senate.
     
  • The Emanuel Church holds substantial symbolic value for the African-American community. It is one of the largest and oldest black congregations in the South. It dates to the early 19th century and was partially founded at that time by a freed slave, according to the US National Park Service. Booker T. Washington and Martin Luther King, Jr. were two of the many prominent African-American leaders who have spoken at the church in the last century.
     
  • The US Department of Justice is treating the shooting as a hate crime, in large part because of statements the suspect allegedly made prior to opening fire on the crowd, according to one witness and local media reports.

We do not know whether the shooting was timed to some key visits to the city or an important anniversary that occurred in Charleston this week. Local media noted that hours before the attack, Reverend Pinckney had met with former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush was set to visit Charleston today.

Notably, this week marks the anniversary of a planned slave revolt that the church’s founder tried to organize in 1822. At the time, local residents burned the church to the ground and hung six people in retaliation. Contact Information Any agency with information or comments/questions on this or other OHSP analytical products, please contact the OHSP Analysis Bureau at analysis@njohsp.gov or at 609-584-4000.

The New Jersey intelligence and law enforcement communities continue to work with federal partners, including the FBI, to monitor the situation on the ground in the State, and we encourage citizens to report any suspicious activity in their communities and especially around religious sites. New Jersey has at least 25 African Methodist Churches. They are located in Orange, Princeton (2), Newark, Jersey City, Rahway, Trenton (2), Burlington, Bordentown, Allentown, Cookstown, Mount Holly, Crosswicks, Hamilton, Asbury Park (2), Freehold, Hightstown, Manalapan, Browns Mills, South Toms River, Lakewood, Jackson, and Summit.

  • This tragic incident highlights the importance of reporting suspicious activity.Such contact can be made by calling (866) 4SAFENJ (866-472-3365) or 2-1-1, or by emailing tips@njohsp.gov.

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For more information, please contact NJOHSP's Analysis Bureau at analysis@njohsp.gov or 609-584-4000.