Editor’s Note: February 2, 2016
After speaking with two members of Dylann Roof’s family, The Intercept can no longer stand by the premise of this story. Both individuals said that they do not know of a cousin named Scott Roof.
The problems with this story reflect a pattern of misattributed quotes that The Intercept uncovered in stories written by Juan Thompson, a former staff reporter. We apologize to our readers.
DYLANN ROOF, the 21-year-old white supremacist accused of murdering nine black churchgoers at an historic church in Charleston, South Carolina, was captured Thursday morning, ending an extensive 14-hour search by federal and local law enforcement. Roof’s arrest brings some relief to a city and country on edge, following yet another mass shooting.
Roof’s Facebook page, which has been deleted, showed a photo of him dressed in a black jacket adorned with symbols of the racist white regimes that ruled Rhodesia and South Africa.
Dalton Tyler, Roof’s roommate, told ABC News that Roof spoke of starting a civil war and that he advocated racial separatism. “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 said.
Scott Roof, who identified himself as Dylann Roof’s cousin, told me over the telephone that “Dylann was normal until he started listening to that white power music stuff.” He also claimed that “he kind of went over the edge when a girl he liked starting dating a black guy two years back.”
This scenario recalls a manifesto written by Elliot Rodger, who on May 23, 2014 gunned down six people in Isla Vista, California: “How could an inferior, ugly black boy be able to get a white girl and not me?”
“Dylann liked her,” Scott Roof said. “The black guy got her. He changed. I don’t know if we would be here if not …” Roof then abruptly hung up the phone.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Roof’s family had grown concerned over the last two months as his racist views started to boil over. “He apparently told people that he was involved in groups, racist groups,” said a woman who identified herself as the mother of Roof’s former stepmother. “He turned into a loner in the last couple of years and no one knew why. He just fell off the grid somehow.”
Roof’s uncle Charles Cowles told Reuters that Roof’s father, Ben, gave the alleged killer a .45 caliber pistol for his birthday earlier this year. Police have not disclosed what sort of firearm was used in the shootings.
Roof was captured four hours away from Charleston, in Shelby, North Carolina, after a local florist spotted his car on the highway and alerted authorities.
Meanwhile, Mashable obtained a SnapChat video that was recorded just moments before Roof allegedly opened fire on his victims. The short clip shows a Bible study group sitting around a table. At the far end is a white male who resembles Roof.
The video was taken by Tywanza Sanders, 26, a recent college graduate who was among the nine people killed Wednesday night.
The city of Charleston has multiple vigils planned this evening to remember those who were gunned down.
“If we stay silent,” South Carolina congressman Jim Clyburn told a memorial service yesterday, “they win.”
“They must not win.”
Photo: Chuck Burton/AP