WATCH ABOVE: CBS News’ Adriana Diaz looks into Dylann Roof’s background and what drove him to commit the shooting in Charleston.
Police in South Carolina have accused 21-year-old Dylann Roof of carrying out a mass shooting at the Emmanuel AME church — a historic African-American church — killing nine people Wednesday night.
Authorities confirmed Roof was arrested Thursday morning Thursday morning in Shelby, North Carolina, nearly 400 kilometres northwest of where the massacre took place.
Chief Gregory Mullen told reporters, Roof was arrested shortly after 11 a.m. ET during a traffic stop.
Police had also been looking for a black Hyundai that Roof was believed to be driving.
Reuters reported the FBI saying Roof is from the area of Columbia, South Carolina
Earlier reports suggested Roof hailed from Lexington, two hours away from Charleston, but the Lexington Police Department clarified in a Facebook post he only “had ties to Lexington.”
Carleston Cowles, Roof’s uncle, told Reuters he saw the surveillance photo and believes it was his nephew in the image.
“The more I look at him, the more I’m convinced, that’s him,” the 56-year-old told Reuters.
He added the suspect’s father recently bought Roof a .45-calibre handgun for his birthday.
Roof has an arrest booking record, under his full name Dylann Storm Roof, for trespassing/entry on another’s pasture or land.
But according to The Associated Press, Roof had no adult criminal history in South Carolina until March, when he was arrested in Lexington County on felony drug possession charges.
Roof’s lawyer for his drug arrest in March, Ken Matthews, told Mother Jones his client had “asked people some questions, which made some people uncomfortable” at the Columbiana Centre.
Police were called to the mall, where Roof was arrested for possession of the painkiller suboxone.
According to the Charleston Post and Courier, Roff was banned from the mall after that incident, but showed up again on April 26. Police arrested him that day and he was sent to jail.
Matthews described Roof as “just a normal kid,” explaining how he had dealings with the family since a custody case related to visitation.
When asked about Roof’s alleged motivation for the shooting, which police have labelled a hate crime, Matthews told Mother Jones he “had no inkling of anything like that in the dealings I had with him.”
Matthews added he had spoken with Roof’s father, Ben, Thursday morning.
Matthews may not have had any indication that Roof held racist views, but a former roommate claims he was aware of the suspected gunman’s views.
Dalton Tyler told ABC News Roof was “big into segregation and other stuff.”
“He said he wanted to start a civil war. He said he was going to do something like that and then kill himself.”
Tyler claimed Roof had been “planning something like that for six months.”
Police are still investigating whether Roof had connections to white-supremacist or other extremist organizations.
A photo posted on a Facebook account attributed to Dylann Roof shows the suspect a jacket with two flags affixed on the chest.
The top flag was the apartheid-era flag of South Africa, while the lower one is the flag of Rhodesia, the colonial name for what is now Zimbabwe.
With files from The Associated Press