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I had to do it because … somebody had to do something, because black people are killing white people everyday – on the streets. What I did is still minuscule to what they’re doing to white people every day. I do consider myself a white supremacist.
~ Roof's explaination as to why he committed the massacre.

Dylann Roof (born April 3, 1994-) is a white supremacist terrorist who was convicted of murdering nine members of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church on June 17, 2015. Of those killed were Clementa C. Pinckney, who was a senior pastor as well as the state senator of South Carolina. Roof shot another individual at the church, but that would-be victim survived.

Roof was charged with nine counts of murder, and the then-governor of South Carolina, Nikki Haley, tried to push for his execution. On December 15, 2016, Roof was found guilty of all 33 federal hate crime charges against him and was later sentenced to death on January 10, 2017. On March 31, 2017, Roof agreed to plead guilty in state court and escaped death sentence and was instead sentenced to life imprisonment without parole.

Biography

Early life

Roof was born in Columbia, South Carolina. His father, Franklin Bennett, divorced his stepmother, Paige Mann, ten years prior to the shooting at the Charleston church. Roof went to several schools, but he eventually dropped out, and he took to playing video games and doing drugs. He also alternated between living with Bennett and with Mann.

According to a former high school classmate of Roof's, he had several friends who were black, and he never expressed any disdain for them. However, it was believed that Roof had been planning something like the upcoming shooting for months.

Charleston church shooting

On the evening of June 17, 2015, a mass shooting broke out in the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church during a routine bible study. The shooter, later identified as Roof, apparently lived in Eastover at the time of the attack.

Roof entered the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church at 9:05 p.m. During the hour preceding the attack, 13 people including Roof participated in the Bible study. According to the accounts of people who talked to survivors, when Roof walked into the historic African-American church, he immediately asked for Pinckney and sat down next to him, initially listening to others during the study.

He started to disagree when they began discussing Scripture. Eventually, after waiting for the other participants to begin praying, he stood up and pulled a gun from a fanny pack, aiming it at 87 year old Susie Jackson. When Jackson's 26 year old nephew, Tywanza Sanders, tried to talk Roof down and asked him why he was trying to attack churchgoers, he responded "I have to do it. You rape our women and you're taking over our country. And you have to go." When he threatened to shoot everyone, Sanders dove in front of Jackson and was shot first. Roof then fired at the other victims in the church. Both Sanders and Jackson were killed.

Roof reportedly shouted racial epithets during the shooting and also said, Y'all want something to pray about? I'll give you something to pray about." He reloaded his gun five times. Sanders' mother and his five-year-old niece, both attending the study, survived the shooting by pretending to be dead.

Roof reportedly spared one woman (Sanders' mother) so she could tell other people what happened. He asked her, "Did I shoot you?", she replied, "No.", then, he said, "Good, 'cause we need someone to survive, because I'm gonna shoot myself, and you'll be the only survivor.". Roof allegedly turned the gun to his own head and pulled the trigger, only to hear a "click" sound and discovering he's run out of ammo. Before leaving the church, he reportedly "uttered a racially inflammatory statement" over the victims' bodies. The entire shooting lasted approximately six minutes.

Roof was reportedly using a Glock 41 .45-caliber handgun and was carrying eight magazines holding hollow-point bullets. In the end, he fled the scene, but was eventually apprehended by the police.

Website

On June 20, 2015, three days after the shooting, a website called The Last Rhodesian was discovered and was later confirmed to be owned by Roof. The website contained his racist views, along with a manifesto in which he outlined his views toward blacks, among other peoples. He also gives praise to Adolf Hitler and the Ku Klux Klan on the site.

Other motivations

Roof had ties to the White Power Movement; after reading up on articles on the Council of Conservative Citizens' website, Roof became convinced that black-on-white crime was getting out of hand. He also was a regular reader of The Daily Stormer. Eventually this lead him to becoming radicalized and creating The Last Rhodesian.

Victims

  1. Clementa C. Pinckney - July 30, 1973 (41 years)
  2. Cynthia Graham Hurd - June 21, 1960 (54 years)
  3. Susie Jackson - January 28, 1928 (87 years)
  4. Ethel Lee Lance - August 30, 1944 (70 years)
  5. DePayne Middleton-Doctor - December 15, 1965 (49 years)
  6. Tywanza Sanders - July 23, 1988 (26 years)
  7. Daniel L. Simmons - July 16, 1940 (74 years)
  8. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton - September 24, 1969 (45 years)
  9. Myra Thompson - January 15, 1924 (59 years)

The victims were later collectively referred to as "The Charleston Nine" and "The Emanuel Nine".

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