Dylann Roof: Everything We Know About The Charleston Shooting Suspect

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A portrait of the white, 21-year-old man suspected of massacring nine people Wednesday night at a historic black church in downtown Charleston, South Carolina began to emerge Thursday as those who knew him shared photos and recollections.

Dylann Storm Roof, of Eastover, South Carolina, seems to have a sparse public social media presence. A Facebook page that appears to belong to him said that he attended White Knoll High School in Lexington, South Carolina. Many black people appeared to be on his list of Facebook friends and some posted messages about being inundated with friend requests from individuals who wanted to know more about the suspect.

“Can everyone stop messaging me about Dylann Roof I don’t know the kid yea he went to school with me so did 4000 other kids thanks,” Raymond Tyrel Carter, a former classmate, wrote.

Here’s what we know about Roof so far:

White supremacist leanings

A Facebook friend of Roof’s, who goes by the name Derrick D Gutta Pearson on the social network, posted this photo of what he said was Roof and his car:

The man in the photo, who resembles Roof, sat on the hood of a black car with a front license plate reading “Confederate States of America.”

An expert on domestic extremism told TPM on Thursday that there were other indicators Roof harbored white supremacist sentiments.

Mark Pitcavage, the director of investigative research for the Anti-Defamation League, said two patches on a jacket Roof was wearing in the only public photo on the Facebook page are symbols of the white supremacist movement. One patch is the flag of South Africa’s Apartheid government while the other is the flag of the former white-controlled country of Rhodesia, which later became Zimbabwe, Pitcavage said.

The photo of Roof wearing the jacket with flag patches was posted late last month.

But Antonio Metze, who told The Associated Press he was friends with Roof in high school, said he was surprised that his former classmate allegedly carried out the attack.

“I never thought he’d do something like this,” Metze told the AP. “He had black friends.”

He allegedly planned the attack for 6 months

Dalton Tyler, who identified himself as the suspect’s current roommate, told ABC News that Roof talked about segregation and had been planning the attack “for six months.”

“He said he wanted to start a civil war,” Tyler said. “He said he was going to do something like that and then kill himself.”

He bought a handgun with his birthday money

The suspect was an introverted and soft-spoken young man, according to a man who identified himself as Roof’s uncle in an interview with Reuters. Carson Cowles, 56, told the news service that he told Roof’s mother he thought his nephew needed to get out more.

“I said he was like 19 years old, he still didn’t have a job, a driver’s license or anything like that and he just stayed in his room a lot of the time,” Cowles told Reuters.

Cowles told Reuters he believed Roof’s father recently gifted him a .45-caliber handgun for his birthday.

Reuters also contacted a cellphone number belonging to Roof’s mother, Amelia. A woman who answered told the news service, “We will be doing no interviews ever” before hanging up the phone.

A childhood friend who recently re-connected with Roof, Joseph Meek, told The New York Times that the suspect actually purchased the handgun himself with money he received from his parents for his 21st birthday.

Tyler, the suspect’s roommate, also spoke with the Times and recalled a drive en route to a strip club when Roof used a racist word to refer to a black woman he saw.

“I’ll shoot your ass,” Roof then said in reference to the black woman, according to Tyler.

Run-ins with the law

Roof has had brushes with the law before. County records show that Roof was arrested in March on drug charges and then was detained again in late April, Columbia TV station WIS reported.

A classmate of Roof’s at White Knoll High School, John Mullins, told The Daily Beast that he remembered the suspect as a “pill popper” rather than a white supremacist.

“He used drugs heavily a lot,” Mullins told the news site. “It [sic] obviously harder than marijuana. He was like a pill popper, from what I understood. Like Xanax, and stuff like that.”

The former classmate told The Daily Beast that he didn’t think Roof was a racist so much as a conservative with a lot of “Southern Pride.”

“He made a lot of racist jokes, but you don’t really take them seriously like that,” Mullins said. “You don’t really think of it like that.”

Republican presidential candidate and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told CNN that his niece, Emily, knew of Roof from her 8th grade English class and also had the impression that the suspect used drugs.

“He was quiet, strange, very unsocial and everyone thought he was drugs [sic],” Graham said his niece told him.

Didn’t finish high school

Roof attended two high schools, according to The New York Times: White Knoll High School in Lexington, South Carolina, and Dreher High School in Columbia, South Carolina. He attended ninth grade twice at White Knoll, according to the newspaper. Neither school district had records to show The Times proving that Roof graduated.

Meek, the friend who recently got back in touch with Roof, told The Times that the suspect worked in landscaping and sometimes slept in his car.

Liked “emo” music

Twitter users who said they went to high school with Roof remembered him as a “punk rocker” who liked emo music.

This post has been updated.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Catherine Thompson is a senior editor for Talking Points Memo in New York City. She came to the site in 2013 and reported on national affairs. Previously, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She can be reached at catherine@talkingpointsmemo.com.
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