Man ac­cused of church killings spoke of at­tack­ing col­lege: drink­ing buddy

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL - BY MITCH WEISS AND MICHAEL BIESECKER

A black drink­ing buddy of the white man ac­cused of killing nine peo­ple at a Charleston church says the sus­pect told him a week ear­lier that he planned to shoot up a col­lege cam­pus in the city.

The friend, Chris­ton Scriven, told The As­so­ci­ated Press on Fri­day that he thought Dy­lann Roof’s state­ments were just drunken blus­ter. Still, Scriven said he was con­cerned enough that he and another friend, Joey Meek, went out to Roof’s car and re­trieved his .45-cal­iber hand­gun, hid­ing it in an air-con­di­tion­ing vent of a mo­bile home un­til they all sobered up.

“He just said he was go­ing to hurt a bunch of peo­ple” at the Col­lege of Charleston, said Scriven, 22.

“I said, ‘What did you say? Why do you want to hurt those peo­ple in Charleston?’”

“He just said, ‘In seven days ... I have seven days.’”

A week later, on Wed­nes­day, author­i­ties say the 21-year-old Roof went into Charleston’s his­toric Emanuel African Methodist Epis­co­pal Church, sat for nearly an hour at a Bi­ble study class, and then opened fire on the par­tic­i­pants.

The ex­change re­counted by Scriven matches ac­counts from other friends of Roof who have been in­ter­viewed by the AP.

They de­scribed him as a trou­bled and con­fused young man who al­ter­nated be­tween par­ty­ing with black friends and rant­ing against blacks to his white friends.

Four months be­fore the deadly shoot­ing rampage, court records show Roof was ar­rested at a Columbia shop­ping mall on a mis­de­meanor drug charge af­ter go­ing around dressed all in black, ask­ing sus­pi­cious ques­tions about when stores closed and em­ploy­ees left for the night. He was later ar­rested again, this time for tres­pass­ing at the mall de­spite be­ing banned from the premises.

On his Face­book pro­file, Roof posted a photo of him­self wear­ing a jacket adorned with the flags of the now de­funct white-su­prem­a­cist regimes in South Africa and Rhode­sia, yet he also counted sev­eral black peo­ple among his online so­cial con­nec­tions.

Not Feel­ing Love

Scriven lives next door to Joey Meek in a Lex­ing­ton, South Carolina, mo­bile home park where res­i­dents say Roof was a fre­quent visi­tor in re­cent months. Meek and his fam­ily were close to Roof un­til Roof dropped out of their high school. The two lost touch for sev­eral years be­fore re­cently re­con­nect­ing, Meek said.

In an in­ter­view on Thurs­day, Meek re­counted how Roof had com­plained while get­ting drunk on vodka that “blacks were tak­ing over the world” and that “some­one needed to do some­thing about it for the white race.” Meek says Roof also told him he used birth­day money from his par­ents to buy a .45-cal­iber Glock semi­au­to­matic hand­gun.

Scriven said he first met Roof through Meek and they fre­quently drank to­gether in re­cent weeks. They talked about fish­ing, NASCAR and guns, Scriven said, but never race.

“One night we all got drunk to­gether and since then, me and Dy­lann were just home­boys,” Scriven said. “We would just chill ev­ery day.”

Soon, Roof be­gan open­ing up. Scriven said Roof con­fided that he was un­happy, bounc­ing be­tween the homes of his di­vorced par­ents. He would stay for days at the mo­bile home park, smok­ing Amer­i­can Spirit cig­a­rettes and drink­ing hard, Scriven said. Then he would go home for a day or two to get clothes and money.

Scriven said he could

tell Roof was de­pressed, and that he com­plained that he wasn’t get­ting the love and emo­tional sup­port he needed from his par­ents. When he got up­set, Roof would re­treat to his car, blast­ing a cas­sette tape of opera.

“I don’t think his par­ents liked his de­ci­sions, the choices that he made to have black friends,” Scriven re­counted. “His mom had taken the gun from him and some­how he went back and took it from her. ... That’s when we saw the gun for the first time: .45 with a high-point laser beam.”

Last week, while they were drink­ing in the back of Scriven’s house, Roof blurted out his plan about car­ry­ing out a mass shoot­ing at the Col­lege of Charleston.

“I don’t think the church was his pri­mary tar­get be­cause he told us he was go­ing for the school,” Scriven said Fri­day. “But I think he couldn’t get into the school be­cause of the se­cu­rity ... so I think he just set­tled for the church.”

Scriven said he told Meek about what Roof had said, and the two of them de­cided to take Roof’s gun. They hid the gun in Meek’s trailer. But Meek’s girl­friend later told them they needed to get the gun out of the house. So they gave it back to Roof.

When Scriven saw this week that Roof was ar­rested, he said it hit him “that he ac­tu­ally did all the stuff he said he was go­ing to do, like he ac­tu­ally killed these peo­ple.”

Though none of them took the state­ments se­ri­ously, Scriven said he and Roof’s other friends are now strug­gling with the knowl­edge that they might have been able to pre­vent the killings.

“I think ev­ery­one feels guilt,” Scriven said. “There are a lot of things that hap­pen in life that we just don’t un­der­stand and we’ll never un­der­stand. And this sit­u­a­tion is some­thing that you’re not go­ing to find the an­swers to from or­di­nary peo­ple ... The only per­son that can tell you is Dy­lann.”

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