People want something to blame for the shootings that claimed nine lives at Charleston's historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church this week, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said Friday, but the truth is "there's a very evil kid out there that we need to blame."
"Now we want to start the healing process," Haley told Fox News' "Fox & Friends," in response to a question about President Barack Obama's statement Thursday on gun violence in connection with the killings.
Later, Haley appeared on the "Today" show where she called for alleged shooter Dylann Roof to get the maximum punishment.
“We will absolutely want him to have the death penalty,” Haley NBC's Savannah Guthrie on “Today." Roof was the only person to blame, she said, "a person filled with hate."
"Once we get through healing process," she said, "I know there will be a lot of conversation."
On Thursday, gun-rights groups
slammed Obama's call for a national reckoning on gun violence, when he commented that "this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries."
Haley, though, told Fox that "apparently he's got a job to do, but my job is that there are nine families who are incredibly hurt. There is an Emanuel church family that's beside themselves."
And, the Republican governor said, the "time right now is not right for South Carolina" to be having the gun control debate.
Haley, who choked back tears on Thursday while addressing the public about the shooting, on Friday said that the past two days have been a "devastating, devastating situation to deal with."
Police arrested Dylann Storm Roof, 21, a white man from Lexington, South Carolina, on Thursday after a 14-hour manhunt, tracking him down in Shelby, North Carolina, about 220 miles north of the shooting site.
Police found a weapon in Roof's car, possibly the one used to open fire on the church's Bible study group after sitting in with its members for nearly an hour. Roof has reportedly confessed to the crime
, telling officers he wanted to start a race war.
"I talked with my investigators yesterday, [and] they said they looked pure evil in the eye," Haley said Friday. "That's what we're talking about. It's a kid that thought in a way that people in South Carolina don't think."
State Sen. Clementa Pinckney, 41, the church's pastor, was among those killed in the attack. He was a married father of two daughters, and was first elected to the state House at 23, making him the youngest member of that legislative body at the time.
The killings were never anything South Carolinians thought they ever have to deal with, Haley told Fox News on Friday, "but we're a strong, prayerful state, we'll come together and we'll get through this."
But for now, it's hard.
"Going to a place of worship is a place that you are vulnerable," she said. "You forget the world for a while, you are there to focus and just think about God and all the blessings do you have. Never do you think that you have to worry about walking into a church and being concerned that something is going to happen."
Haley predicted that as a result of the shocking act, churches will need to start to have security, as "it's a different day and time."
She said the events led her to an emotional conversation with her own son, who, like so many people, did not understand what happened.
"On Wednesdays in South Carolina, many families are at church, and so he wanted to know why this happened and what the reasoning was, and I said, 'You know, all we can say is this is pure hate and that's not what you go into a church to do.'"
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