Obama outraged by ‘tragic’ Charleston massacre

The gunman reportedly stood up and announced he was there 'to shoot black people' before he opened fire.

FILE: US President Barack Obama. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - US President Barack Obama on Thursday said he was outraged, angered and saddened by the South Carolina mass shooting.

In a live television address this evening, he called the massacre a tragedy and spoke of the history and value of the Emmanuel African Methodist Church during the civil rights movement.

The suspected gunman in the massacre, Dylann Roof, was cornered and arrested by authorities in Shelby on Thursday afternoon.

He's believed to be the white gunman who shot and killed nine black worshippers at the church on Wednesday evening.

Witnesses said he stood up and announced he was there "to shoot black people" before he opened fire.

WATCH: South Carolina church shooting dubbed a hate crime

Disturbing photos of the 21-year-old had been circulating, one of which showed him wearing a jacket with flags of apartheid South Africa and Rhodesia.

While police have labelled this a "hate crime", Obama said America needed to have a serious conversation about gun control.

"We don't have all the facts but we do know that once again innocent people were killed because someone who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a gun. Now is the time for mourning and for healing but let's be clear; at some point we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries."

Obama has also called for unity during this time.

"The fact that this took place in a black church obviously also raises questions about a dark part of our history. This is not the first time that a black church has been attacked and we know that hatred across races and faiths pose a particular threat to our democracy and ideals."

State Governor Nikki Haley said it was a sad day for South Carolina.

"These nine families needs us, the Emmanuel African Methodist Church family, needs us and the people of South Carolina needs us to come together and be strong for what has happened."

Dylann Storm Roof, 21 caught for #CharlestonShooting got his gun as a birthday gift. Note the Apartheid-era flags. pic.twitter.com/Wf3yk3ZJfK

The flags on Dylann Roof's jacket are white supremacist patches. Referencing white ruled African states. #AMEShooting pic.twitter.com/h3xpfhL7pf