CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — The historic black church where nine people were killed will re-open for a Sunday service, and the FBI said it was reviewing a manifesto purportedly written by the suspected gunman.
The website linked to Dylann Roof surfaced online Saturday and contained photos of him holding a burning American flag and standing on one. He was also seen holding a Confederate flag, considered a divisive symbol by civil rights leaders and others. The hate-filled 2,500-word essay talks about white supremacy and concludes by saying the author alone will need to take action.
It’s unclear if Roof wrote it but the rants are in line with what he has told friends and what he said before allegedly opening fire inside the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church Wednesday night.
Cleaning crews mopped up the crime scene on Saturday and some church members entered it for the first time since the shooting.
Harold Washington, 75, was with the group and saw the room the victims were shot in.
“They did a good job cleaning it up, there were a few bullet holes around but what they did, they cut them out so you don’t see the actual holes,” he said.
He said he expected an emotional service Sunday, and a large turnout.
“We’re gonna have people come by that we’ve never seen before and will probably never see again, and that’s OK,” he said. “It’s a church of the Lord — you don’t turn nobody down.”
The church had that same welcoming nature when Roof walked into their Bible study, Felecia Sanders, who survived the shooting, said at Roof’s bail hearing Friday. She lost her son Tywanza in the attack.
A federal law enforcement official close to the investigation said the FBI is aware of the website linked to Roof and is reviewing it. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly on the case.
Internet registry records show that the website was created on Feb. 9 via a Russian registry service with the owner’s personal details hidden. A man who answered the phone at the Moscow-based company would not say who the site’s owner was.
Roof is being held in jail, facing nine counts of murder and a weapons charge.
The victims included the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, a state senator who doubled as the church’s lead pastor, and eight others who played multiple roles in their families and communities: ministers and coaches, teachers and a librarian, counselors and choir singers and the elderly sexton who made sure the church was kept clean.
A police affidavit released Friday accused Roof of shooting all nine multiple times, and making a “racially inflammatory statement” as he stood over an unidentified survivor.
Roof had complained while getting drunk on vodka recently that “blacks were taking over the world” and that “someone needed to do something about it for the white race,” according to Joey Meek, who tipped off the FBI when he saw his friend on surveillance images.
Contributors include Phillip Lucas, Meg Kinnard and David Goldman.
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