Note: This post is based on what has been reported about Roof in the first hours after his arrest on June 18th 2015.
Dylann Storm Roof (1994- ), an American White supremacist, is suspected of having shot and killed six Black women and three Black men, including a state senator, at the Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. The police are calling it a hate crime, but not an act of terrorism. They believe he acted alone.
He joined a Wednesday night Bible study at about 8.15pm on June 17th 2015. He asked where the pastor was and sat next to him. An hour later he stood up and started shooting. He reloaded his gun five times. When asked why he was killing people, he said:
“I have to do it. You rape our women and taking over our country. You have to go.”
Three survived: two played dead, one of them a five-year-old girl. The third he let live so that she could tell others what he had done – something that terrorists do.
The church’s security camera had caught him and his car on video. When pictures from the video were made public, his family and friends told the FBI who he was.
After a 14-hour manhunt, he was taken alive near Charlotte, North Carolina, 400 km away.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, did not know about him. Based on his Facebook page, they say he seems to be a “disaffected white supremacist”. In one Facebook picture (shown above) he wears a jacket with patches showing the flags of South Africa and Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) from the 1970s, back when they were still under White rule.
The front plate on his car shows flags from the Confederate States of America, which fought to defend Black slavery 150 years ago. He lived in Columbia, South Carolina, which still flies the Confederate battle flag in front of the state capitol building.
In March he was arrested on a felony drug possession charge.
In April his father gave him a .45-calibre handgun for his 21st birthday. He practised his shooting.
His mother said:
“I don’t know what was going through his head. He was a really sweet kid. He was quiet. He only had a few friends.”
She knew he was in Charleston on Tuesday, the day before the shooting, but did not know why. She did not think he was racist or would kill anyone.
His uncle said he was “quiet and soft-spoken.”
John Mullins, who went to high school with him, said Roof was “kind of wild”:
“He used drugs heavily a lot. It was obviously harder than marijuana. He was like a pill popper, from what I understood. Like Xanax, and stuff like that.”
Mullins did not think he was racist:
“I never heard him say anything, but just he had that kind of Southern pride, I guess some would say. Strong conservative beliefs. He made a lot of racist jokes, but you don’t really take them seriously like that. You don’t really think of it like that.”
Antonio Metze, a high school friend, noted:
“I never thought he’d do something like this. He had black friends.”
– Abagond, 2015.
- The Last Rhodesian – a post about his website, which gives a fuller picture of him.
- The Charleston massacre
- Confederate flag
- Other mass killers:
- The word “terrorism”
- “Some of my best friends are Black”
- “It was just a joke”
- Black rape statistics
- Bowling for Columbine
- American White supremacy