How Could We Know Dylann Roof’s Motivation?!

Brian BeutlerShortly after a gunman killed nine congregants of the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, the state’s Republican Governor, Nikki Haley, issued a statement which read in part, “we’ll never understand what motivates anyone to enter one of our places of worship and take the life of another.”

About nine hours later, investigators solved that supposedly eternal mystery. The FBI identified the suspect as Dylann Storm Roof, a young man who adorns himself in the apartheid-era flags of Rhodesia and South Africa, and who was recently given a .45 caliber pistol for his 21st birthday. Law enforcement officials called the rampage a hate crime, which at the very least tells us a lot about what motivated him to enter a place of black worship and take the lives of others.

—Brian Beutler
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