Updated at 3:38 p.m. June 18, 2015:
WASHINGTON -- Charleston, South Carolina coroner Rae Wooten has released the names of those shot and killed in a historic black church Wednesday night. Cynthia Hurd, 54; Tywanza Sanders, 26; Sharonda Singleton; Myra Thompson, 59; Ethel Lance, 70; Susie Jackson, 87; Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr.; and DePayne Doctor were killed after a man allegedly gunned them down during bible study.
Dylann Storm Roof, 21, was captured during a traffic stop in North Carolina less than an hour before mourners and community members were expected to gather for a prayer vigil. Police Chief Greg Mullen said that Roof was found after a citizen "did exactly what we asked them to do" after seeing a suspicious vehicle, and Roof was cooperative when arrested.
Mullen said there was no reason to believe that anyone else was involved in the shooting.
The Charleston Post-Courier reports that Roof is from the Columbia, South Carolina, area. He is said to have sat at a prayer meeting for about an hour before opening fire at the Emanuel AME Church at around 9 p.m.
Three people survived the shooting. House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford says that among those killed at the church was the church’s pastor, state Sen. Clementa Pinckney, 41, a married father of two who was elected to the state house at age 23, making him the youngest member of the House at the time.
President Barack Obama called the mass shooting a tragedy and said that that he knew Pinckney and other members of the congregation. But he said he is not just heartbroken but angry.
"I've had to make statements like this too many times. Communities have had to endure tragedies like this too many times," Obama said during a brief statement from the White House. "Once again innocent people were killed in part because someone who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a gun."
"At some point it's going to be important for the American people to come to grips with it and for us to be able to to shift how we think about the issue of gun violence collectively," the president said.
This April 2015 photo released by the Lexington County (S.C.) Detention Center shows Dylann Roof, 21. Charleston Police identified Roof as the shooter who opened fire during a prayer meeting inside the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., Wednesday, June 17, 2015 night, killing several people. (Lexington County (S.C.) Detention Center via AP)
Meanwhile, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said that a hate-crimes investigation had begun.
Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley called the shooter a "horrible person," and added that he had gotten calls from Vice President Joe Biden, who knew Pinckney and the church, and from President Obama and offered to make any necessary federal resources available.
The mayor also announced the formation of the Mother Emanuel Hope Fund, started with $5,000 from the city, for people in the city and around the country to help. Anyone who wants to help can donate to the Mother Emanuel Hope Fund, P.O. Box 304, Charleston, SC, 29402.
Gov. Nikki Haley broke down momentarily while addressing a news conference.
“We woke up today and the heart and soul of South Carolina was broken,” she said through tears. “And so we have some learning to do. And we have some change we have to go through. Parents are having to explain to their kids how they can go to church and feel safe, and that’s not something we ever thought we’d deal with.”
Two Charleston reporters, citing members of Pinckney's family and another are pastor, say the gunman reloaded several times.
The attack came two months after the fatal shooting of Walter Scott, an unarmed black man, by a white police officer in neighboring North Charleston that sparked major protests and highlighted racial tensions in the area. The officer has been charged with murder, and the shooting prompted South Carolina lawmakers to push through a bill helping all police agencies in the state get body cameras. Pinckney was a sponsor of that bill.
Soon after Wednesday night’s shooting, a group of pastors huddled together praying in a circle across the street.
Community organizer Christopher Cason said he felt certain the shootings were racially motivated.
“I am very tired of people telling me that I don’t have the right to be angry,” Cason said. “I am very angry right now.”
Even before Scott’s shooting in April, Cason said he had been part of a group meeting with police and local leaders to try to shore up relations.
The Emmanuel AME church is a historic African-American church that traces its roots to 1816, when several churches split from Charleston’s Methodist Episcopal church.
One of its founders, Denmark Vesey, tried to organize a slave revolt in 1822. He was caught, and white landowners had his church burned in revenge. Parishioners worshipped underground until after the Civil War.
"Mother Emanuel is in fact more than a church, this is a place of worship that was founded by African Americans seeking liberty. This is a church that was burned to the ground because its worshipers worked to end slavery....this is a sacred place in the history of Charleston and in the history of America," President Obama said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.