By Harriet McLeod
CHARLESTON, S.C. (Reuters) – A 21-year-old white gunman accused of killing nine people at a historic African-American church in Charleston, South Carolina, was arrested on Thursday, said U.S. officials, who are investigating the attack as a hate crime.
Law enforcement officials caught alleged gunman Dylann Roof, whose rampage on Wednesday came in a year that has seen months of racially charged protests across the United States over killings of black men.
U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch told reporters that a suspect had been taken into custody, hours after the shooting.
A man who identified himself as Roof's uncle said he had recently been given a .45-caliber handgun as a birthday present by his father and that the 21-year-old had seemed adrift.
The victims, six females and three males, included Reverend Clementa Pinckney, who was the church's pastor and a Democratic member of the state Senate, according to colleagues.
(Additional reporting by Julia Edwards in Washington, Emily Flitter in New York, David Adams in Miami, Letitia Stein in Tampa, Florida, Randall Hill in Charleston, S.C., Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles and Curtis Skinner in San Francisco; Writing by Scott Malone; Editing by Bernadette Baum and James Dalgleish)