"We have, quite likely, found at 110 Calhoun Street, in Charleston, South Carolina, the place where Columbine, Aurora, and Newtown cross with Baltimore, Ferguson, and Sanford," writes The New Yorker's Jelani Cobb, perfectly capturing the horror that unfolded at a historic black church last night (at 36,000 shares at the moment). Nine black members of the congregation, including its pastor, are dead after a white gunman opened fire Wednesday night, setting off an overnight manhunt before his capture this morning. "A week that began with public grappling with race as absurdity has concluded with shock, yet again, with race as the catalyst for tragedy," Cobb writes. "Existential ? of who is black has been answered in the most concussive way possible: the nine men and women slain," Washington Post's Perry Stein shares from the piece.
"There is no greater coward than a criminal who enters a house of God and slaughters innocent people engaged in the study of scripture," the New York Times quotes the president of the N.A.A.C.P. BuzzFeed describes how the shooter sat at a prayer meeting for an hour before opening fire. "So chilling that the shooter sat through the entire Bible study first," reacts Jessica Misener there. "Growing evidence that the Charleston shooting was an extremist-ideology act and not a psychopathology act," concludes Doug Saunders at Globe and Mail. And for this historic church in particular, the shooting adds yet another painful chapter in a long history of tragedy. "Charleston's Emanuel A.M.E. Church was once burned to the ground for its connection with a thwarted slave revolt," details The New Republic's Jamil Smith.
And now for the part no one likes--everything known about the Charleston church shooting suspect, 21-year-old Dylann Storm Roof. "Never has the name DYLAN been so misappropriated and crazy-spelled," observes freelance journalist Allen Salkin. "Just that old harmless, heritage-not-hate Southern pride, huh," muses The Atlantic's David A. Graham, sharing this screencap. "No everyone it’s fine, Dylann Storm Roof HAS BLACK FRIENDS!!!" Mic's Michelle Garcia tweets in disgust. Further compounding signs of racial motivation: "In Facebook photo, Dylann Roof is pictured in jacket w/flags of apartheid S.Africa & Rhodesia," points out Daily Beast's Tim Mak.
In an address just earlier today, President Barack Obama said, "Now is the time for mourning and healing, but let's be clear: At some point, we as a country, will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries. It doesn't happen in other places with this kind of frequency ... The fact that this took place in a black church also raises questions about a dark part of our history." Re/code's Kara Swisher reflects, "Yet another tragic gun fueled race crime (when will our leaders lead?)."