How South Carolina church massacre spurred reaction in NYC

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HARLEM -- He's a 21 year-old with a clear interest in white supremacy, who has almost as many black friends on his Facebook page as he does whites. To say that accused Charleston church mass murderer Dylann Roof is enigmatic may be an understatement. One thing is clear, however. Even though he is innocent until proven guilty of this hate crime, he's shown numerous times recently support for white domination.

The profile photo on Roof's Facebook page shows that sewn onto his high school jacket were two flags: one of South Africa during apartheid a that of Rhodesia, which was what the African country Zimbabwe was called when it was under apartheid -- rule by a minority of white people over the black majority.

Also, South Carolina has only rear license plates, so the front plate holder can legally remain empty or contain any image. In the case of Roof (pronounced Raaf), he displayed a Confederate States of America license plate.

It was the same car that Roof was seen on surveillance video driving away from the church in, and in which he was found, 240 miles northwest of the mass murder scene, in North Carolina.

"He was stopped because a citizen alerted law enforcement to a suspicious activity," said Charleston police chief Gregory Mullen at a news conference late Thursday morning, "and law enforcement went out and they knew that, once they arrived there, that it was the individual that we were looking for."

People who know Roof said that he regularly told racist jokes, to which they paid little mind. People who survived the shooting reported that he made further, more harsh racist comments to them, before opening fire.

"I'm here to kill black people," he said, as well as, "You rape our women and you're taking over the country. You have to go.”

He killed nine people, then fled. Because surveillance video from the scene captured images of Roof, a friend was able to identify him, and police were able to capture Roof.

"How did this person go from being a beautiful infant to this?" asked Graham Witherspoon, a director of the Brooklyn based organization Black Law Enforcement Alliance. "What brought him to this point?"

Witherspoon, a retired 20-year veteran NYPD detective, has trained a variety of people in church security, and said in an interview with PIX11 News that it's even more pertinent now in the wake of the Charleston shooting. In fact, Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Thursday that the NYPD was increasing patrols at African American churches in New York.

At Abyssinian Baptist Church, perhaps the most the most prominent church in Harlem, there's typically a security detail of off-duty state police and other officers, but they were in greater number and vigilance on Thursday, both because of added events in reaction to the Charleston shooting, and because of the heightened need for security that the mass murder provoked.

"Sometimes it's necessary to have security at churches," said Witherspoon, "uniform or plainclothes."