Dylann Roof has reportedly confessed to the shooting at a church in Charleston in which nine people were killed.
The suspect was yesterday after a 14-hour manhunt following the shootings at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.
CNN has reported that it was told by anonymous officials that the 21-year-old had confessed to the shooting. According to the report, the officials also told CNN that the suspect had said he carried out the shooting in order to start a race war.
Police have now however denied that Roof made the comments about wanting to start a race war, the LA Times has reported.
According to the paper, Charleston Police Department spokesman Charles Francis said: "We've never said he told us he was trying to start a race war."
Roof is suspected of targeting the historic institution because of his racial hatred and his Facebook page suggested a fascination with apartheid and white supremacy.
Earlier today, the governor of South Carolina called for him to face the death penalty.
"This is a state hurt by the fact that nine people innocently were killed," Nikki Haley said. "We will absolutely want him to have the death penalty."
Former acquaintances of Roof have come forward since his arrest to claim he had been planning the attack for months and wanted to start a racially-fuelled "civil war" in the US.
Joey Meek said the suspect declared during a drinking session that “someone needed to do something about it for the white race”.
In pictures: Charleston vigil
In pictures: Charleston vigil
1/6 Charleston vigil
Sunlight shines through a window and onto some of the thousands of people gathered for a city-sponsored prayer vigil for the nine victims of the Emanuel AME Church shooting
2/6 Charleston vigil
People attend a vigil at TD Arena for victims of the Charleston church shooting
3/6 Charleston vigil
A view of Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina
4/6 Charleston vigil
People attend a prayer vigil at the TD Aren
5/6 Charleston vigil
Family members of the nine victims of the Emanuel AME Church shooting sit on the first five rows during a prayer vigil at the College of Charleston TD Arena
6/6 Charleston vigil
NBA Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard (C) joins thousands of people for a prayer vigil for the nine victims
Mr Meek called the FBI after recognising his former friend in a police appeal, down to the stained sweatshirt he wore while playing videogames in his home the morning of the attack.
Several weeks ago, Roof reportedly told him he had bought a .45-calibre Glock pistol, reportedly with birthday money, and that he had “a plan".
The suspect joined a Bible study group at the Emanuel AME church on Wednesday night, sitting with his alleged future victims for an hour before opening fire.
Three members of the same family, pastors and a senator were among those gunned down as a five-year-old child played dead on the floor.
The massacre has provoked huge public anger in the US after a year of rising racial tensions that led to riots in Ferguson, Missouri, and nationwide protests over police brutality and the deaths of young black men.
Additional reporting by agencies