President Barack Obama responded Thursday to the shooting at a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina, that left nine dead.
“Any death of this sort is a tragedy, any shooting involving multiple victims is a tragedy,” he said. “There is something particularly heartbreaking about death happening at a place in which we seek solace and we seek peace.”
“I’ve had to make statements like this too many times. Communities have had to endure tragedies like this too many times,” he continued. “Once again, innocent people were killed in part because someone who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a gun. … We as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries.”
Authorities apprehended suspect Dylann Roof, who they believe opened fire Wednesday evening at Emanuel African Methodist Church during a weekly Bible study gathering. Eight individuals were found dead at the scene, and another died later at the hospital.
South Carolina House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford (D) tweeted Thursday that he received a call from the president expressing his regret.
The Department of Justice will conduct a hate crime investigation into the shooting. The investigation will involve the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office.