Dylann Roof, 21, arrested on Thursday in connection with the murder of nine people at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, has reportedly confessed to the crime.
Sources told NBC News that during his confession, he said he “almost didn’t go through with it because everyone was so nice to him,” but in the end decided he had to “go through with his mission.”
Yesterday it was reported that Roof entered the church on Wednesday night and sat with a prayer group for nearly an hour before launching a racist tirade, producing his weapon, and opening fire, killing pastor and State Senator Clementa Pinckney along with eight others. Law enforcement officials told the Washington Post Roof “sat silently” during the prayer meeting, whose topic for the evening was the Gsopel according to Mark, while “declining to join the discussion.”
“Witnesses told authorities they never saw the man pull out the gun,” the Post reports. “Instead, they saw him start shooting, up close, targeting each victim with precision. The man took the time to reload the handgun ‘several times,’ officials said.”
In addition to Pinckney, the other victims killed at the scene are identified by the Washington Post as “Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, 45, who is the mother of a Charleston Southern University student; Cynthia Hurd, 47, the manager of the St. Andrews Regional Library in Charleston; Susie Jackson, 87; Ethel Lance, 70; DePayne Middleton; Tywanza Sanders, 26; and Myra Thompson, 59.” Additionally, Daniel Simmons, age 74, died at the hospital during attempts to save his life.
Roof apparently planned his attacks for several weeks, according to what his brother and a friend told the Associated Press after the shooting:
Joseph Meek Jr. said he was drinking vodka with 21-year-old Dylann Roof when Roof made the remark while he was railing against blacks.
Roof didn’t elaborate on the plan, but Meek said he was worried. He said he knew his friend had a “Glock” — a .45 caliber pistol — in the trunk of his car.
Meek said Roof told him he bought the gun with money he got from his parents for his birthday.
With the way Roof was carrying on, Meek said he took the gun from the trunk of Roof’s car and hid it in his house, just in case.
“I didn’t think he would do anything,” he said.
But the next day, when Roof was sober, he gave it back.
Meek’s brother, Jacob, said he recalled something else. As they were driving to a lake on Wednesday, Roof said he should be careful moving his backpack in the car because of the “magazines.”
But Jacob said he thought Roof was referring to periodicals – instead of a device that stores ammunition.
“Now it all makes sense,” he said.
And yet, the pastor and congregants of the Emanuel AME church came so very close to winning a battle for Roof’s heart and soul that they didn’t know they were fighting.
While live-blogging the shooting and manhunt on Thursday morning, I heard speculation that Roof might have quietly slipped into the church and lurked in the shadows for a while before launching his attack. I thought it more likely that he was welcomed with open arms into the prayer service he eventually attacked, and that turns out to be the case.
When a historic black church welcomed a white youth into their prayer service, they made a statement no murderer can erase.
— John Hayward (@Doc_0) June 18, 2015
It is painful to watch some people attempt to use the Charleston shooting for divisive racialist ends. With the testament of their final hours, Pastor Pinckney and his congregants made it clear that is not what they would have wanted.