BROOKLYN — The NYPD will boost protection at the city's African-American churches following the shooting deaths of nine people at a historic black church in Charleston, S.C., Wednesday night.
Mayor Bill de Blasio held a moment of silence and announced the increased resources "directed at protecting African-American churches in this city" during an unrelated press conference at Prospect Park Thursday.
"There are so many people here who hail from South Carolina, and it’s a very, very painful moment for all of us," said de Blasio. "I want everyone to know there’s no place in New York City for this kind of hatred."
The announcement came shortly before police announced they had arrested a suspect in the shooting, Dylann Storm Roof, 21.
Charleston Police Chief Gregory Mullen said Roof, of Lexington, S.C., was arrested in Shelby, N.C. during a traffic stop.
Roof is white and the shooting is being investigated as a hate crime. Mullen called it a "tragic, heinous" crime.
According to police, Roof sat in on a prayer meeting at the Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church for more than an hour before he opened fire, killing three men and six women.
The reaction to the killing in New York City was swift. The Rev. Al Sharpton planned to offer a reward before the killer was arrested.
"What has our society come to when people in a prayer meeting in the sacred halls of a church can be shot in what is deemed (as a) possible hate crime," Sharpton said in a statement.
Public Advocate Letitia James described the shooting as "horrific violence" that is "an affront to everything we hold dear."
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams announced plans to host an "emergency meeting" Thursday afternoon with local clergy and officials from the NYPD's Intelligence Division and Counterterrorism Bureau.
"That was a terrorist act," Adams said in describing the shooting.
The meeting is an effort to "prepare ourselves to make sure we don’t have any copycats," Adams added.
The mayor said there was no "specific evidence" of any possible copycat attacks. He described the beefed up protections at black churches as a protocol already in place that is used at "key community locations" when there are attacks on the Jewish community.
"We, in this case, are going to reinforce key African-American religious institutions, and be very watchful for anything that suggests any other type of attack," de Blasio said.