Dylann Roof trial: List of other churches, flags found in suspect’s car

Dylann Roof. Photo courtesy of Charleston County Sheriff's Office

CHARLESTON, S.C., Dec. 12 (UPI) — Jurors in the federal criminal trial of Dylann Roof on Monday saw additional evidence collected by Charleston police — including a list of other churches that were potential targets.

Prosecutors on Monday, day four of the trial, presented evidence that was allegedly collected in Roof’s vehicle at the time of his arrest in North Carolina, just days after the mass shooting at the Emanuel AME Church last year.

Among the items police found in the car were two flags — an American and Confederate flag – empty ammunition boxes, a laser-sight attachment and remnants of a package that contained a handgun bullet clip.

Also found in the vehicle, prosecutors said, was a list of churches in the Charleston area — other potential targets, they argued, for Roof’s violent and racist plans. In addition to the Emanuel AME church, others on the list included Morris Brown AME, Calvary Episcopal, Central Baptist, Ebenezer AME and a Catholic church.

Authorities believe Roof eventually settled on the Emanuel AME church and sat in a Bible study class there for about an hour before launching the assault on the evening of June 17, 2015.

Prosecutors say Roof killed nine people at the historic black church, believing it would help spark a race war in the United States. A self-styled white supremacist, Roof has expressed contempt for violence perpetrated by African Americans in the United States.

The Stars and Stripes and the Confederate flag, which is often considered a symbol for segregation, further support prosecutors’ claims that Roof was moved to violence by race — a key component for hate crimes under the federal statute.

Police also allegedly recovered a note from Roof’s vehicle in which the suspect apologized to his family for the negative attention the case would bring.

On Monday, jurors also saw surveillance video from a Charleston gun shop recorded two months before the church attack, in which Roof is seen purchasing a weapon that police believe was used in the shootings.

The proceedings Monday also included testimony by FBI agents and other witnesses called by prosecutors.

Roof, 22, is being tried on 33 federal charges, including violations of hate crime laws and religious freedoms. He also faces a state murder trial next month. Both are capital cases. Roof has offered to plead guilty if the death penalty is taken off the table, but prosecutors have refused.

Last week, the jury watched two hours of a Roof interrogation by FBI agents, during which the suspect admitted to the shootings. At the start of the trial, Roof acted as his own attorney but ultimately rehired his defense attorneys for help with certain parts of the case.

Prosecutors expect to wrap their arguments by midweek, after which the defense will present its case.


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