Charleston church shooting suspect charged with 9 counts of murder, firearm possession

Mourner kneels outside the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina June 18, 2015 (Reuters / Brian Snyder)
Dylann Roof has confessed to, and been charged with, nine counts of murder and possession of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime. The bond for the gun charge was set a $1 million, but he will remain in jail as there is no bond for murder.

On Friday afternoon, Roof appeared before a Charleston judge via video conference from jail. Inside the courtroom, relatives of the nine people killed at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church on Wednesday evening gave their statements, often in tears.

Roof reportedly said he wanted to start a race war.

The 21-year-old was arrested by authorities in Shelby, North Carolina, on Thursday, following the tragic shooting which left six women and three men dead.

The .45-caliber handgun used in the attack was apparently purchased by Roof in Charleston in April. Previous reports stated that the gun was a birthday gift from his father. However, his grandfather stated that Roof was merely given"birthday money,"and that his family didn't know what he used it for.

It was Roof's own sister, Amber, who called authorities after seeing the surveillance photo of her brother on TV, The Washington Post reported, citing law enforcement officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley told NBC Charleston that Roof should get the death penalty.

The Roof family, meanwhile, issued a statement extending their "deepest sympathies and condolences to families of the victims" of the shooting.

"Words cannot express our shock, grief, and disbelief as to what happened that night," the statement continued. "We are devastated and saddened by what occurred. We offer our prayers sympathy for all of those impacted by these events."

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of those killed this week. We have all been touched by the moving words from the victims’ families offering God’s forgiveness and love in the face of such horrible suffering."

The"race war"comment comes after Dalton Tyler, who said he has known Roof for seven months to a year, told ABC News that Roof was"big into segregation."

READ MORE: 9 people killed in S. Carolina church shooting, police investigating 'hate crime'

“I think he wanted something big like Trayvon Martin," Tyler said. “He wanted to make something spark up the race war again.”

Hundreds in Charleston attended a vigil for the nine victims on Thursday, packing the church's pews and the street outside.

Roof left White Knoll High School in the suburbs of Columbia, South Carolina, in ninth grade. He finished out the year at another nearby high school, but didn't return after that year.

These are not Roof's first criminal charges. The 21-year-old drew the attention of police at a local mall in February, walking into stores wearing all black and asking workers “out of the ordinary questions” such as how many people worked at the shops, and what time they left.

The officer who questioned Roof at that time found strips of Suboxone, a drug for treating opiate addition, in his jacket pocket. He was charged with felony drug possession and banned from the mall.