The suspect in the unspeakable horror that unfolded in a Charleston, S.C., church last night — a shooting that left nine people dead — has been identified by authorities as 21-year-old Dylann Roof. Normally, I am very reluctant to give such suspects even a smidgen of publicity by publishing their photos. But I am making an exception because the above photo, found on what appears to be his Facebook profile, gives us a couple of clues as to what might have motivated such a terrible thing.
On the jacket he’s wearing, you’ll notice two flags. The one on top is the same as the flag of South Africa during apartheid:
The one below is the flag of another apartheid state, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), from 1968 to 1979:
Obviously, those are ominous symbols to have been worn by a young white man who is now accused of committing a mass shooting in a black church.
Evil is evil regardless of motivation, but we all know how the fault line that is race in America is always on the brink of splitting. Let’s not allow what appears to be one sick individual to drag the rest of us into the abyss with him. Instead, pray for the survivors, the families of the victims, the entire congregation of Emanuel AME Church, and the law-enforcement officers trying to catch the suspect before anyone else is harmed.
UPDATE: Roof has been arrested.