Police captured the white suspect on Thursday in a gun massacre at one of the oldest black churches in the United States, the latest deadly assault to feed simmering racial tensions.
Police detained 21-year-old Dylann Roof, shown wearing the flags of defunct white supremacist regimes in pictures taken from social media, after nine churchgoers were shot dead during a bible study on Wednesday.
He was caught at a traffic stop in North Carolina and flown back just hours later to Charleston, South Carolina, the scene of the slaughter in the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.
Television footage showed the slender Roof bordering a small aircraft with his hands tied and wearing a black-and-white horizontally striped prison uniform.
Booking photos released by Charleston County jail showed a sullen, boyish suspect with a pudding-bowl haircut.
The carnage was the worst at a US place of worship in decades and recalled the darkest periods of US history, in a church once burned to the ground after a failed slave revolt.
Charleston Police Chief Gregory Mullen said: “I do believe it was a hate crime.”
A reported friend of the accused, 21-year-old Dalton Tyler, told ABC News that Roof had spoken in support of racial segregation and had “said he wanted to start a civil war.”
In Washington, a clearly frustrated President Barack Obama said the “senseless murders” showed the United States will have to come to grips with its gun culture.
“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,” Obama said.Members of the historic church’s mainly black congregation, many of them elderly, had gathered Wednesday evening for a Bible study meeting when the shooter walked into the building, sat for about an hour, then opened fire.