LEXINGTON, SOUTH CAROLINA – Dylann Storm Roof recently reconnected with a childhood buddy he hadn’t seen in five years and started railing about black people “taking over the world” and the need for something to be done for “the white race,” the friend said Thursday.
On Thursday, Roof, 21, was arrested in the shooting deaths of nine people at a historic black church in Charleston — an attack decried by community leaders and politicians as a hate crime.
In the hours after the Wednesday night bloodbath, a portrait began to take shape of Roof as someone with racist views. On his Facebook page, he wore a jacket with the flags of the former white-racist regimes of South Africa and Rhodesia.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Joseph Meek Jr. said he and Roof had been best friends in middle school but lost touch when Roof moved away about five years ago. The two reconnected a few weeks ago after Roof reached out to Meek on Facebook, Meek said.
Roof never talked about race years ago when they were friends, but recently made remarks about the killing of unarmed black 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Florida and the riots in Baltimore over the death of Freddie Gray in police custody, Meek said.
“He said blacks were taking over the world. Someone needed to do something about it for the white race,” Meek said. “He said he wanted segregation between whites and blacks. I said, ‘That’s not the way it should be.’ But he kept talking about it.”
He said that when he woke up Wednesday morning, Dylann was at his house, sleeping in his car outside. Later that day, Meek went to a nearby lake with a couple of other people, but Roof hated the outdoors and decided he’d rather go see a movie.
Meek said he didn’t see his friend again until a surveillance-camera image of a man walking into the church was broadcast on television Thursday morning. Meek said he didn’t think twice about picking up the phone and calling authorities.
“I didn’t THINK it was him. I KNEW it was him,” Meek said.