Parishioners were let into the bullet-scarred Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church on Saturday, getting a first-hand glimpse of the room where nine people from their congregation were slain.
Meanwhile, the FBI said it was investigating a manifesto purportedly written by the suspected gunman, 21-year-old Dylann Roof.
The website linked to Roof contained photos of him holding a burning American flag and standing on one. In other images, he was holding the Confederate flag representing the pro-slavery South in the American Civil War, considered a divisive symbol by many.
The hate-filled 2,500-word essay talks about white supremacy and the author says “the event that truly awakened me was the Trayvon Martin case.”
Martin was an unarmed black teenager who was fatally shot in Florida in 2012 by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman. Martin was walking home, got into a confrontation with Zimmerman and was shot.
Prosecutors accused Zimmerman of profiling Martin, but he was acquitted of murder. The manifesto said “it was obvious that Zimmerman was in the right” and that the case led him to search “black on White crime” on the Internet.
“I have never been the same since that day,” it said.
It’s unclear if Roof wrote it but the rants are in line with what he has told friends and what he said before allegedly opening fire inside the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church on Wednesday night.
Cleaning crews worked at the church on Saturday and church members announced they will hold a Sunday service. Harold Washington, 75, was with the small group that saw the lower-level room where the victims were shot.
“They did a good job cleaning it up, there were a few bullet holes around but what they did, they cut them out so you don’t see the actual holes,” he said.
He said he expected an emotional service on Sunday, and a large turnout.
Internet registry records show that the website was created on February 9 via a Russian registry service with the owner’s personal details hidden. A man who answered the phone at the Moscow-based company would not say who the site’s owner was.
Roof is being held in jail, facing nine counts of murder and a weapons charge.
A police affidavit released on Friday accused Roof of shooting all nine multiple times, and making a “racially inflammatory statement” as he stood over an unidentified survivor.