An Annotated Guide To The Charleston Massacre Suspect’s Racist Photo Trove

A photo from a white supremacist website showing Dylann Storm Roof, the suspect in the Charleston, S.C., church shooting.
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Dylann Roof allegedly photographed himself visiting slave burial grounds and scrawling white supremacist symbols into beach sand in the months before he opened fire at a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina.

A chilling, racist manifesto surfaced Saturday at the website alongside a ZIP file containing 60 photos of a man who appears to be Roof, the white, 21-year-old suspect in the Charleston attack.

Among the photos were images of Roof visiting plantation houses, burial grounds for Confederate soldiers and other historic sites around Charleston that hark back to the antebellum South. Other images of Roof posted on the website are dominated by white supremacist and neo-Nazi symbols. The photos were shot between August 3, 2014 and June 17 with the majority shot in March and April, according to CNN.

TPM has annotated the most significant photos in the file to help shed light on the symbols and locations depicted in them.

Plantation houses

Roof was photographed in front of Boone Hall, a historic plantation house just outside Charleston, South Carolina that calls itself “America’s most photographed plantation.” Scenes from the 2004 movie “The Notebook,” which follows two South Carolina lovers from the pre- to the post-World-War-II era, were filmed there.

Roof took several photos on a visit to the McLeod Plantation in Charleston, South Carolina. In the above photo, Roof was pictured in front of the plantation’s slave quarters.

Roof also took photos at Magnolia Plantation in Charleston, South Carolina. Magnolia was a rice plantation and visitors may tour the slave cabins on the property, which Roof also photographed.

Burial grounds

Roof posed beside headstones at the Confederate soldiers burial ground inside Elmwood Cemetery in Columbia, South Carolina. Confederate flags frequently appear in his photos.

Roof took a photo with a sign marking the location of slave burial grounds near McLeod Plantation. The burial grounds were discovered in 1996, when the city of Charleston attempted to build a fire station on the site.

Historic sites

Roof stood beside an informational sign at Sullivan’s Island, a town on Charleston Harbor which during the colonial era was the point of entry for about 40 percent of the slaves brought to the United States from Africa.

Roof posed in front of the famed Angel Oak in John’s Island, South Carolina. The tree, said to be at least 400 years old, was named after the slave-owning Angel family who owned the land where it is located. But the ghosts of slaves would also appear around the tree as angels, according to local lore.

Here Roof stood in front of the Museum and Library of Confederate History in Greenville, South Carolina.

White supremacist symbolism

Roof burned an American flag in one of the photos. In his alleged manifesto, he wrote “I hate the sight of the American flag. Modern American patriotism is an absolute joke. People pretending like they have something to be proud while White people are being murdered daily in the streets.” Another photo linked to at showed a shirtless Roof trampling and spitting on the American flag.

Roof posed on a beach behind a “1488” and an Othala rune scrawled in the sand. “1488” references two white supremacist symbols: 88, which is shorthand for “Heil Hitler,” and 14, which stands in for the 14-word saying “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.” The Othala rune, pictured below the “1488” in the top photo, is a pre-Roman symbol adopted by Nazi Germany and, later, white supremacists in the U.S.

In this photo Roof held a Confederate flag and wore a T-shirt emblazoned with the number 88, which appears to be another reference to the white supremacist phrase “Heil Hitler.”


Roof purchased a .45-caliber handgun in April with birthday money he was given by his parents, one of his childhood friends told The New York Times. Some of the photos in the file show him posing with a gun, while one photo shows the gun and several bullets laid out on what appears to be Roof’s bedspread. The gun in the photos matches the .45-caliber Glock model 41 Roof allegedly used in the attack on Emanuel AME, according to CNN.

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