On June 17th, 2015 Dylann Roof opened fire at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. A massive manhunt eventually brought him to justice, and his trial on federal changes has just concluded.
1. He operated a personal website known as The Last Rhodesian where he wrote about his “ideology”
The “last Rhodesian” is probably in reference to the Republic of Rhodesia, which was an unrecognized state in southern Africa that attempted to preserve white rule over efforts to create a bi-racial government. Under the short-lived regime, black political leaders were arrested and tortured to maintain order. Many white supremacists look upon this government with much nostalgia, and their flag (which Roof wears) is a symbol of the white supremacy movement.
The website itself features a gallery of pictures and a large text file labeled his “manifesto.” Both reveal more dark information about Roof. The website’s front page featured a white dead body.
2. The website featured a large number of bizarre photos, many of Roof himself.
Attached to his website were 61 photos, many of Roof standing ominously in different places. Some were even selfies of himself wearing his “Rhodesian” garb or holding weapons.
Some other photos featured a cemetery, a gun, pictures of Roof stomping on the American flag and brandishing the rebel flag.
3. He claims to have been racially “awakened” by the Trayvon Martin case
On his website, he writes:
The event that truly awakened me was the Trayvon Martin case. I kept hearing and seeing his name, and eventually I decided to look him up. I read the Wikipedia article and right away I was unable to understand what the big deal was. It was obvious that Zimmerman was in the right. But more importantly this prompted me to type in the words “black on White crime” into Google, and I have never been the same since that day.
Roof says that the occurrence of “black on white crime” led him to believe that he should trigger open violence between the races.
4. He openly hated America and veterans
Roof believed that patriotism was a joke and modern veterans aren’t really fighting for anything:
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. Many veterans believe we owe them something for “protecting our way of life” or “protecting our freedom”. But im not sure what way of life they are talking about.
His hate of America can also be seen in the photos of Roof stomping upon the American flag and honoring the rebel or Rhodesian flag.
5. He was partially motivated by movie quotes
In his broad “manifesto” Roof claims that one quote, in particular, motivated his attack:
To take a saying from a film, “I see all this stuff going on, and I dont see anyone doing anything about it. And it pisses me off.”
This quote was from the movie American History X. Ironically, that film was about a white supremacist who realized his views were wrong while in prison. He also cites a second quote:
To take a saying from my favorite film, “Even if my life is worth less than a speck of dirt, I want to use it for the good of society.”
Which is from the movie Himizu, which apparently he also completely misunderstood.
6. He deliberately targeted Charleston
He concludes his manifesto by explaining that Charleston, historically, has a very high ratio of blacks to whites and that’s why he wanted to attack there. He also implies that he “had” to attack, and hoped that his actions would trigger more violence.
I have no choice. I am not in the position to, alone, go into the ghetto and fight. I chose Charleston because it is most historic city in my state, and at one time had the highest ratio of blacks to Whites in the country. We have no skinheads, no real KKK, no one doing anything but talking on the internet. Well someone has to have the bravery to take it to the real world, and I guess that has to be me.
7. He was actually questioned by police in early March
On March 2nd, Roof was questioned by police after he skulked around a local mall wearing all black garb and asked multiple employees uncomfortable, “unsettling” questions.
He was found carrying drugs, and was banned from the mall for a year. When he was found on mall property again in April, his ban was modified to at least three years.
8. And again in late March
On March 13th, Roof was recognized by one of the cops who questioned him at the mall earlier in the month. The office search his car and found an AR-15 grip and six unloaded magazines.
Roof explained that he was in possession of both things because he had wanted to buy an AR-15, but didn’t have enough money. He was not violating South Carolina law by having either, so no further action was taken.
9. He allegedly told people about his plans
Roof told friends and neighbors about his plans to execute a mass shooting somewhere. He often complained about “blacks taking over the world” and told a close childhood friend that he planned to “kill people.” Another friend revealed that the church may have been a backup plan after he couldn’t get inside a college.
10. Despite both police encounters and giving advanced warning, Roof unleashed horror on Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church
Around 8:00PM EST, Roof entered the EAMEC church and sat through their nighttime Bible study. 13 people — including Roof and Reverend Clementa C. Pinckney — were at the class.
According to the congregation members present, Roof listening carefully during the study and seemed to be very attentive. While the group concluded the meeting in prayer, Roof pulled his gun out of a fanny pack and began to open fire.
When someone asked him why he was doing this, Roof responded: “I have to do it. You rape our women and you’re taking over our country. And you have to go.”
He also reportedly screamed at his victims during the shooting: “Y’all want something to pray about? I’ll give you something to pray about.”
11. Upon arrest, he showed no regret or remorse
Roof was apprehended by police in North Carolina after Debbie Dills saw his car. She tailed him for 36 miles before police honed in.
The closest Roof ever came to remorse was stating that he almost rescheduled the shooting after the members of the church were so kind to him. Otherwise, he confessed to investigators about wanting to start a race war, and insisted there was nothing wrong with him mentally.
12. To this day, he still maintains that he had to do it.
When talking to the jury about sentencing, Roof not only showed zero remorse, he also openly stated that he would do it again.
“In my confession to the FBI, I told them that I had to do it. But obviously that’s not really true. I didn’t have to do it, and no one made me do it. What I meant when I said that was I felt like I had to do it, and I still feel like I had to do it. Anyone who hates anything in their mind has a good reason to hate.”
13. But now he will die
A jury has just sentenced Roof to the death penalty on his federal charges. This is the first time someone has gotten the death penalty for a federal hate crime.