Charleston shootings: Dylann Roof photos found online

image captionThe series of images appear to show Dylann Roof burning the US flag and posing with guns

Images have surfaced online that appear to show the gunman that killed nine people at an African-American church in South Carolina posing with a gun.

The collection of photographs found on a website also show 21-year-old Dylann Roof burning the US flag and visiting a former slave plantation.

In one image he is shown staring down the camera while sitting on a chair in camouflage trousers holding a gun.

It is unclear who posted the images on the site, which was found on Saturday.

Flag criticism

The website also carries a racist manifesto, the provenance of which is also unknown. Internet records suggest the website's domain was registered in February but it is unclear who was behind it.

A law enforcement official, quoted by AP, said the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was looking into the website.

Data from the images show many of them were taken in April and May this year.

image captionSeveral of the photographs showed Mr Roof holding a Confederate flag
image copyrightOther
image captionSome showed him at sites that appeared to have historic ties to the slavery-era in the south

Many of the photographs show Mr Roof posing with the Confederate flag, a symbol used in the US south during the civil war when southern states tried to break away to prevent the abolition of slavery.

It is viewed by many as symbolising the white supremacy advocated by those states at the time.

Former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has joined calls for South Carolina to take down the controversial flag flying outside its capitol building in Columbia.

image copyrightAFP/Getty Images
image captionOn Saturday, hundreds of people marched in Columbia to demand the removal of the Confederate flag
image copyrightEPA
image captionLegislation could be introduced to remove the Confederate flag later this week

It follows US President Barack Obama's remark that the flag belonged "in a museum".

Hundreds of demonstrators rallied near the flag on Saturday to demand its removal.

Protesters chanted "Take it down" and sang We Shall Overcome, an anthem of the black civil rights movement.

On Friday, South Carolina's Republican state representative Doug Brannon told MSNBC that he planned to introduce legislation to remove the flag.

Elsewhere, Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton has made an impassioned appeal for tougher gun laws, saying that her heart was "bursting" for the families of the victims of the Charleston shooting.

media captionHillary Clinton: I am not and will not be afraid to keep fighting for common sense reforms"

"We can have common sense gun reforms that keep weapons out of the hands of criminals and the violently unstable, while representing responsible gun owners," she told a gathering of mayors in San Francisco.

Mr Roof was arrested on Thursday and charged with the murders of nine African-Americans at the Emanuel African Methodist Church in downtown Charleston.

Police said he spent an hour sitting with parishioners inside the church before opening fire on them on Wednesday evening.

Return to church

Crowds gathered outside the historic church on Saturday to hear pastors from across the US lead prayers. Many travelled hundreds of miles from across the country to pay their respects.

"There was an overwhelming feeling that made me drive here," Monte Talmadge, a 62-year-old army veteran who drove nearly 480km (300 miles) to get to Charleston, told Reuters.

image copyrightReuters
image captionChurch members entered the building for the first time since the shooting last week
image copyrightGetty Images
image captionRev Franklin Ferguson was one of the pastors leading prayers outside
image copyrightEPA
image captionThe memorial at the church is growing with bouquets of flowers, balloons and teddy bears

Also on Saturday, a group of congregation members met for the first time in the room where the killings took place.

One of those who attended, Harold Washington, told the Associated Press it was an emotional meeting.

Several rallies were due on Saturday, with one in Charleston organised by the Black Lives Matter movement, which began after the 2013 acquittal of George Zimmerman over the killing of an unarmed African-American teenager, Trayvon Martin.

Up to 3,000 people are also expected to join hands in a march across the Ravanel Bridge, one of the city's main thoroughfares.

The church is due to reopen on Sunday for a service at 09:00 local time (13:00 GMT).

The victims

image captionLeft to right top: Cynthia Hurd, Clementa Pinckney, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Tywanza Sanders. Left to right bottom: Ethel Lance, Depayne Middleton-Doctor, Susie Jackson, Daniel Simmons Sr
  • Cynthia Hurd, 54
  • Rev Clementa Pinckney, 41
  • Rev Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, 45
  • Tywanza Sanders, 26
  • Ethel Lance, 70
  • Rev Depayne Middleton-Doctor, 49
  • Susie Jackson, 87
  • Rev Daniel Simmons Sr, 74
  • Myra Thompson, 59