Dylann Roof’s parents, Franklin Bennett Roof and Amy Coles Roof, get married. Amy is five months pregnant. Their daughter, Amber, is born four months later in June.
After splitting up in June, 1990, Roof’s parents finalize their divorce due to financial issues. Judge:
The Court inquired as to the possibility of reconciliation between the parties, but concluded that such was not possible.
Roof’s parents get back together and Dylann Storm Roof is born.
Roof’s father Franklin (known as “Benn”) marries Paige Mann in Florida, when they were living together in Columbia, South Carolina. Dylann is four years old, and his half-sister Amber is 11. Mann:
[I] raised (Franklin’s) kids from a very young age, took them to all of their activities, and Benn’s kids have spent almost every weekend with me. After we moved to Florida our marriage really began to deteriorate when Benn became so controlling…Benn travels a great deal, usually four days a week, so I would always care for and raise his kids.
Mann tries working at Sears but Franklin says he wants her to be a stay-at-home mom, so she quits. Despite her reluctance, he moves the family to the Florida Keys, away from her friends and family.
After we moved to Florida our marriage really began to deteriorate when Benn became so controlling. He controlled my whereabouts, the checkbook and everything about my life.
Mann’s mother writes that her daughter ‘loved Bennett Roof’s other children Amber and Dylann unconditionally as her own’. Dylann stayed with Mann and Franklin far more often than with his own mother, who was supposed to have him every other weekend,
I was afraid that love for these children clouded her judgement in getting involved with Bennett Roof. Paige was there for Amber and Dylann on the occasions where their own (mother) chose not to be, including church, driving Dylann to and from school and extracurricular activities.
Dylann’s sister Morgan is born.
According to an affidavit filed by Mann, Roof’s father beat her.
My whole world fell apart when Benn and I got into an argument. Benn violently pushed me to the ground and hit me in the back of my head…I was so scared of him that I knew I had to get out of this violent situation
Franklin takes the credit card that Paige has been using to pay the grocery bills –her only source of income — and says he is cutting off the electricity and taking his car.
Mann and Franklin Roof’s divorce is finalized. Before the divorce Franklin hires a private investigator, who discovers Mann is having a relationship with another man. Mann gets custody of Morgan and Franklin must pay $570 per month in child support.
In eight grade Roof attends Carolina Springs Middle School, Lexington, SC.
Roof attends the White knoll High School, in Lexington, SC, which has a mix of white and black students. Many of Roof’s Facebook friends are black. He is described as a “kind of wild” student, however not an outcast, and not bullied: Schoolfriend:
He used drugs heavily a lot. It was obviously harder than marijuana. He was like a pill popper, from what I understood. Like Xanax, and stuff like that…
On racist speech:
I never heard him say anything, but just he had that kind of Southern pride, I guess some would say. Strong conservative beliefs. He made a lot of racist jokes, but you don’t really take them seriously like that. You don’t really think of it like that.
Security guards at Columbiana Centre mall call police after Roof asks employees at a shoe store and a Bath & Body Works about how many people worked at the stores, their closing times and when the employees typically leave, according to an incident report. Roof tells the police that he was asking questions because his parents were pressuring him to get a job. The officer asks Roof is he had gotten any applications from the stores and he said he had not. When asked whether or not he has anything illegal in his possession, Roof says “no,” however a search reveals an unlabeled white bottle containing orange strips, which Roof identifies as Listerine Strips. The officer, however, does not believe him and asked again. Roof says the strips are actually Suboxone, a schedule III narcotic for which he does not have a prescription. According to the FDA, Suboxone contains the active ingredient, buprenorphine hydrochloride, which works to reduce the symptoms of opiate dependence. The officer arrested Roof and had his 2000 Hyundai Elantra towed. He is banned from the mall for a year.
Roof is photographed wearing the flags of Rhodesia and apartheid-era South Africa in front of a sign marking Sullivan’s Island, just south of Charleston. The island was the entry point for 40 percent of the slaves brought to North America, according to the National Parks Service.
Roof is arrested for tresspassing after showing up in the parking lot of the Columbiana Center Mall. His ban from the mall is extended to three years.
Roof tells his friends at a trailer park close to where he lives that he is “looking to kill a bunch of people on Wednesday” at the College of Charleston. However, they do not take him seriously due to his deadpan sense of humor. Friend:
He flat out told us he was going to do this stuff. He’s weird. You don’t know when to take him seriously and when not to.
A gunman kills six women and three men, at a bible study group at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Victims include Reverend Clementa Pinckney, the church’s pastor, who was a Democratic member of the State Senate. The gunman arrives at the church and asks for the pastor, the Rev. Pinckney, and sits among parishioners during a Bible study meeting. At the conclusion of Bible study , the gunman opens fire on the gathering, wounding several people, including the pastor. A survivor says the gunman reloads five different times and that her son was trying to “talk him out of doing the act of killing people,” but he does not listen. The shooter says to the group:
You rape our women and you’re taking over our country. And you have to go.
Eight people are killed inside the church and one more dies at the hospital soon after the incident. Three people survive. Police are still searching for the suspected shooter – a clean-shaven white male about 21 years of age. He is reportedly wearing a grey sweatshirt, blue jeans and Timberland boots.
The Coronor’s office releases the victims’ names:
State Sen. Clementa Pinckney, the church’s pastor.
Cynthia Hurd, 54, St. Andrews regional branch manager for the Charleston County Public Library system.
Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, a church pastor, speech therapist and coach of the girls’ track and field team at Goose Creek High School. Tywanza Sanders, 26, who had a degree in business administration from Allen University, where Pinckney also attended
Ethel Lance, 70, a retired Gilliard Center employee who worked recently as a church janitor.
Susie Jackson, 87, Lance’s cousin who was named by a relative and was a longtime church member.
Depayne Middleton Doctor, 49, who retired in 2005 as Charleston County director of the Community Development Block Grant Program.
Mira Thompson, 59, a pastor at the church.
Daniel Simmons Sr., 74, who died in a hospital operating room.
Debbie Dills, who has been following the news and seen Roof’s description, spots Roof’s car and follows him for 35 miles on Highway 74 from outside of Gastonia to Shelby. She calls her boss at Frady’s Florist & Gifts in Kings Mountain, and he calls the police in Shelby. Dills:
I knew it was a black car, and it had a tag on the front. I saw pictures of him with the bowl cut. I said, I’ve seen that car for some reason. I look, and it’s got a South Carolina tag on it. I thought, ‘Nah, that’s not his car.’ Then I got closer and saw that haircut. I was nervous. I had the worst feeling. Is that him or not him?..I was scared, I felt bad. I felt really weird. I felt like it was him, but I didn’t want it to be him.
Police arrrest Roof in Shelby, North Carolina, almost 250 miles (400 km) – about three and a half hours’ drive – away from Charleston, when local police stop his car after a citizen called in about suspicious activity. Police say Roof was “cooperative” with the officer who stopped him.
President Obama addresses the killings in South Carolina:
I don’t need to be constrained about the emotions tragedies like this raise. I’ve had to make comments like this too many times. Communities like this have had to endure tragedies like this too many times. We don’t have all the facts, but we do know that, once again, innocent people were killed in part because someone who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a gun…Now is the time for mourning and healing, but let’s be clear: At some point, we as a country, will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries. It doesn’t happen in other places with this kind of frequency. It is in our power to do something about it… I say that recognizing the politics in this town foreclose a lot of those avenues right now.
He also says he and first lady Michelle Obama have relationships with many of the church’s parishioners, including the slain pastor.
Dalton Tyler, who says he has known Roof for seven months to one year, says he saw Roof last week.
[He had been] planning something like that for six months…He was big into segregation and other stuff. He said he wanted to start a civil war. He said he was going to do something like that and then kill himself.
Tyler says he met Roof through a good friend. He also says Roof and his parents have an “on and off” relationship, and that they had bought him a gun but never allowed him to take it with him until this past week.
During a quick first appearance in a Cleveland County, NC courthouse, Roof chooses not to fight extradition. Shortly thereafter Roof boards a plane accompanied by law enforcement officials in Shelby, N.C. at Cleveland County Regional Airport. One hour later, he arrives in Charleston and is being detained at the Al Cannon Detention Center.
Coleman-Singleton’s son, Christopher speaks about his mother and the other victims of Roof.
It’s funny how I always told you that you went to church too much. You would laugh it off and say, ‘Boy you can never have too much of the Lord.’ You were a better mother than I could ever have asked for…This has truly broken my heart in every way possible, but I know I have to stay strong for my little brother and sister…I thank everyone for your prayers and thoughts, [Roof’s actions were terrible] but I’m positive this strong woman is in a better place now and I forgive him. Keep our families in your prayers as we continue with this horrid grieving process
Roof confesses that he is responsible for the shootings, and is charged with nine counts of murder and one count of illegal weapons possession. Roof tells police that he almost didn’t go through with the shootings because everyone was so nice to him, but he decided he had to “go through with his mission.” Roof’s cell at the detention facility is next to Michael Slager, the white South Carolina officer charged with murder for shooting Walter Scott, an unarmed black man.
Joey Meek, a friend who reconnected with Roof a few weeks prior to the shootings, says that while they got drunk together on vodka, Roof began complaining that:
Blacks were taking over the world [and that] someone needed to do something about it for the white race.
Meek says that during their reunion Roof told him that he had used birthday money from his parents to buy a .45-caliber Glock pistol and that he had “a plan” that was six months in the making. He didn’t say what the plan was, but Meek said it scared him enough that he took the gun out of Roof’s car and hid it in his house until the next day.
Appearing on video link, Judge Gosnell sets Roof’s bail at $1 million for the weapon-possession charge. A superior court judge must set bail for the murder charges.
Relatives of the shooting victims also speak at the hearing, with the daughter of victim Ethel Lance sobbing as she says, “I forgive you.” The mother of Tywanza Sanders tells Roof that “every fiber in my body hurts.” “Their legacies will live in love, so hate won’t win,” says Alana Simmons, the granddaughter of Rev. Daniel Simmons.
The Roof family releases a statement:
The Roof Family would like to extend their deepest sympathies and condolences to families of the victims in Wednesday night’s shooting at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. Words cannot express our shock, grief, and disbelief as to what happened that night. We are devastated and saddened by what occurred. We offer our prayers sympathy for all of those impacted by these events…
Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of those killed this week. We have all been touched by the moving words from the victims’ families offering God’s forgiveness and love in the face of such horrible suffering. Our hope and prayer is for peace and healing for the families of victims, the Charleston community, and those touched by these events throughout the state of South Carolina and our nation…As you can imagine, words are hard to find and we would ask the media respect of family’s privacy at this time.
A 2500-word ‘manifesto’ titled The Last Rhodesian (link to text), apparently written by Roof details his motivation and discusses the different racial groups he has issues with: The site also has images of Roof burning the America flag, posing next to symbols of the Confederacy and posing with a gun pointed at the camera.
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. The first website I came to was the Council of Conservative Citizens. There were pages upon pages of these brutal black on White murders. I was in disbelief. At this moment I realized that something was very wrong. How could the news be blowing up the Trayvon Martin case while hundreds of these black on White murders got ignored?
He then discusses various racial groups: Blacks, Jews, Hispanics, Asians.
Niggers are stupid and violent. At the same time they have the capacity to be very slick. Black people view everything through a racial lense. Thats what racial awareness is, its viewing everything that happens through a racial lense. They are always thinking about the fact that they are black. This is part of the reason they get offended so easily, and think that some thing are intended to be racist towards them, even when a White person wouldnt be thinking about race. The other reason is the Jewish agitation of the black race. Black people are racially aware almost from birth, but White people on average dont think about race in their daily lives. And this is our problem. We need to and have to. Say you were to witness a dog being beat by a man. You are almost surely going to feel very sorry for that dog. But then say you were to witness a dog biting a man. You will most likely not feel the same pity you felt for the dog for the man. Why? Because dogs are lower than men. This same analogy applies to black and White relations.
And ends with an “Explanation”:
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.”. 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.” 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.
A joint state and federal investigation into Roof’s activities has widened to include other persons that may have had knowledge of Roof’s plans. Investigators are reviewing cell phone and computer records to determine how much others knew. It is unclear what, if any, charges Roof’s associates would face.
South Carolina prosecutor files attempted murder charges against Roof. A state judge already has been appointed. Federal authorities have not said whether they will pursue hate crime charges against Roof.
In a meeting at FBI headquarters, Comey says failures in the gun purchase screening system enabled Roof to acquire the weapon used in the Charleston attack. Roof’s arrest for possession of narcotics in February — a felony charge — should have surfaced on criminal databases and prevented him from buying a weapon at a gun store. Comey indicates that the data was not properly entered in federal criminal justice computer systems, or had been mishandled by an analyst with the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Comey:
This case rips all of our hearts out, but the thought that an error on our part is connected to a gun this person used to slaughter these people is very painful to us.
Roof is charged with 33 counts of hate crimes by a federal grand jury. The indictment says he targeted the victims on the basis of race, in a house of worship, “in order to make his attack more notorious”. Attorney General Lynch says the federal government has not decided if it will seek the death penalty if Roof is convicted and that officials will consider factors including the wishes of the families of the shooting victims. Lynch:
The parishioners had Bibles. Dylann Roof had his .45 caliber Glock pistol and eight magazines loaded with hollow point bullets.
According to his lawyers, Roof wants to plead guilty to all the crimes he has been charged with, but they have advised him not to enter a plea until prosecutors inform the court on whether or not they’ll seek the death penalty.
Roof has told us he wishes to plead guilty. Until we know whether the government will seek the death penalty, we cannot advise Mr. Roof.
The Magistrate enters a not guilty plea for Roof.
Roof’s lawyers file motions in federal court seeking access to any statements their client has made to authorities, as well as physical evidence and summaries of any proposed expert witnesses expected to testify.