NEWBERRY COUNTY — Newberry County law enforcement was on alert Thursday morning after learning that the person being sought in the Charleston church massacre — which left nine people, including a state senator, dead— was from Lexington.
Sheriff Lee Foster said when the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office was notified that 21-year-old Dylann Roof was from Lexington, the department went into a higher state of alert.
“Because of the close proximity to Lexington, we put all of our officers on a higher state of alert and critical response teams were put on higher alert as well,” Foster said. “Once we were notified of his capture, we went back to normal operations.”
Roof was located around 11:15 a.m. Thursday in Shelby, N.C.
Roy McClurkin, interim chief of the Newberry Police Department, said that while they were not necessarily on a heightened state of alert, the department had been vigilant Thursday morning.
“They have all the information and are vigilantly watching, but we’re not calling anyone extra in at this time,” McClurkin said Thursday morning.
Mayor Foster Senn said that Newberry City Hall’s flag, along with others in town, were at half-staff Thursday as requested by Gov. Nikki Haley.
“It is a great tragedy and we’re really saddened by it,” Senn said. “I know all of Newberry’s hearts ache for the families and the people in Charleston.”
John Glasgow, an ordained deacon at New Enoree Baptist Church, said the situation is even more saddening because a church is supposed to be a sanctuary.
“I think all churches, black, white or whatever will think this could happen to them. I think we will all be cautious for a while until we have a sense of security again,” Glasgow said.
Pastor Dean Lollis of Wightman United Methodist Church in Prosperity said he was shocked and devastated as a pastor that the community of faith is now enduring a senseless act of violence and pure evil. Lollis said his heart had been broken since he saw the first news reports Wednesday night.
“While we can always pray for the victims, their families, friends, church and the community of Charleston, maybe what we needed to do most was to stand with Emanuel A.M.E in open defiance of acts of evil and hate,” Lollis said.
When Emmanuel A.M.E opens the next time for worship, Lollis said it should be packed and not just with church members.
Lollis said he had friends and colleagues serving in the Charleston area and he knew that those churches would be there to assist in any way possible.
On Thursday, Lollis said he had a quote from Martin Luther King Jr. on his mind that reads: Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only like can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
“Every church is a part of the big church, the Church Universal, and a tragedy for one of us in faith is a tragedy for all of us,” Lollis said.