Shooting suspect feared ‘blacks were taking over the world’
CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) – A former friend who had reconnected with the man accused of a shooting massacre inside a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina, said Dylann Storm Roof had become an avowed racist.
Joey Meek reconnected with Roof a few weeks ago and said that while they got drunk together on vodka, Roof began complaining that “blacks were taking over the world” and that “someone needed to do something about it for the white race.”
Roof, 21, is accused of fatally shooting nine people during a Bible study at The Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston on Wednesday night, ripping out a piece of South Carolina’s civic heart and adding to the ever-growing list of America’s racial casualties.
Police captured Roof in Shelby, North Carolina, after a motorist spotted him at a traffic light on her way to work. His apprehension ended an intense, hours-long manhunt.
Roof waived extradition and was back in Charleston on Thursday night, authorities said, with a bond hearing pending. On Friday, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley told NBC’s Today show the shooter should get the death penalty.
“We absolutely will want him to have the death penalty,” Haley said.
Charleston officials announced a prayer vigil for Friday evening. The city’s mayor described the shooting at the church as an act of “pure, pure concentrated evil.”
The victims included a state senator who doubled as the church’s minister, three other pastors, a regional library manager, a high school coach and speech therapist, a government administrator, a college enrolment counsellor and a recent college graduate – six women and three men who felt called to open their church to all.
President Barack Obama called the tragedy yet another example of damage wreaked in America by guns.
NAACP president and CEO Cornell William Brooks said “there is no greater coward than a criminal who enters a house of God and slaughters innocent people.” Others bemoaned the loss to a church that has served as a bastion of black power for 200 years, despite efforts by white supremacists to wipe it out.