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Charleston shooting suspect captured in Shelby

Qcitymetro editor Glenn H. Burkins was traveling through Shelby, N.C., shortly after authorities arrested Dylann Roof, who is suspected in the killing of nine people at a Charleston, S.C. church.
Qcitymetro editor Glenn H. Burkins was traveling through Shelby, N.C., shortly after authorities arrested Dylann Roof, who is suspected in the killing of nine people at a Charleston, S.C. church. Qcitymetro

Dylann Storm Roof, 21, of Columbia, the suspect in the mass shooting at a Charleston church Wednesday night, was arrested west of Shelby Thursday morning.

Earlier in the day, he made at least one stop in Charlotte.

Authorities confirmed that a card belonging to Roof was used at a Charlotte ATM. WSOC-TV identified the location as an ATM at a gas station near Providence Road and Ballantyne Commons Parkway.

A worker at the Shell convenience store on Providence declined to confirm Roof’s stop, saying she did not want to get into trouble by talking.

Roof was in custody of Shelby police Thursday. His case is expected to be handled in state court for now.

Capt. Joel Shores of the Cleveland County Sheriff’s Department said Roof was arrested at U.S. 74 and Plato-Lee Road on the western edge of the city, not far from Gardner-Webb University. He says he was told that another driver pulled behind the car and called in a tip.

The suspect’s black sedan was parked a few feet into the driveway of a white bungalow at a busy intersection on U.S. 74, the main road through the foothills city.

Elaine Elmore, who lives across the highway, said she knew something was wrong when she noticed Shelby police cars. She did not see Roof's arrest.

“It's scary to know that could happen right here,” she said, resting in a swing in her yard. “That would scare anybody, to know somebody that cold was right here. He could have come across the street and shot me sitting here.”

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Columbia says attorneys there are working with the FBI and the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Justice Department in an “active hate crime investigation,” First Assistant U.S. Attorney Beth Drake told the Observer.

Why Roof was traveling through Shelby Thursday morning was not clear. U.S. 74 is a popular route to the foothills and mountains of Western North Carolina.

According to Roof’s Facebook page, the suspect in one of the bloodiest hate crimes on record attended White Knoll High School in Lexington, S.C., a predominantly white suburb of Columbia.

Roof was charged with first-offense drug possession in Lexington County in March, according to court records. The case status is listed as pending.

Nine people died following a shooting at Emanuel AME Church in downtown Charleston Wednesday night.

Among the dead are S.C. state Sen. Clementa Pinckney, a pastor at Emanuel AME, and Cynthia Hurd, the sister of Malcolm Graham, a former N.C. senator from Charlotte.

Reporting from The Charlotte Observer and The (Columbia) State.

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