According to people close to the federal investigation, Dylann Roof, 21, the Charleston church shooter who shot and killed nine people including the pastor on the evening of June 17, allegedly kept in touch with white supremacists online. Nevertheless, authorities say that it is still unclear whether Roof was encouraged by those hate groups to engage in the mass shooting.
Federal investigators said that they came across the shooter’s link with online hate groups while trying to figure out the motive behind his outrageous act.
The killings of the nine African Americans are currently investigated as hate crimes since Roof reportedly displayed the confederate emblem during the firings and made several racist remarks related to black people.
One investigator told reporters that one needs to know who Roof talked to and what those people knew about him in order to understand what happened that day. Still, Roof’s close friends knew about his racist beliefs. On one occasion, he said that black people are “stupid” and but because they try to take over the country and rape “our women,” they needed “to go.”
His friends feel ashamed that they didn’t do more to prevent such outburst of violence from occurring. They though Roof was kidding when he told them about his plans of starting a race war a couple of weeks before the mass killings.
Joseph Meek, one of the gunman’s best friends, recently told reporters that Roof wasn’t like that when he was younger. But he gradually changed over years to the point of wanting to “hurt a whole bunch of [black] people.”
The young man also had a site promoting racial hate with photos showing Roof with either a confederate flag or apartheid era emblems. The site also contains a manifesto of its author’s racial beliefs.
Federal agents are currently trying to learn whether the man’s associates knew about his murderous plans beforehand. If they are found guilty they may also be charged and risk prison time. Roof’s electronic devices including his mobile phone and laptop are under the FBI’s custody. Federal tech experts are currently scrutinizing the devices to learn more about the gunman including his online contacts, messages, posts and so on.
Roof is now imprisoned in the Charleston County jail. He faces nine counts of murder and one weapons charge, but the feds could charge him with hate crime after their investigation is over. On June 19, he was granted a $1 million bail for the weapon charge but not for the other counts.
Image Source: Salon
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