A Closer Look at Alleged Deadly Charleston Shooting Gunman Dylann Roof

Photos of 21-year-old Dylann Storm Roof
Photos of 21-year-old Dylann Storm Roof, who is accused in the deady mass church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina.

Charleston, SC (ABC News) – Dylann Roof, the alleged gunman authorities say is responsible for killing nine people in a predominantly black Charleston, South Carolina, church Wednesday night, had been “planning something like that for six months,” according to his roommate.

Dalton Tyler, who said he has known Roof for seven months to one year, said he saw the white, 21-year-old suspect just last week.

“He was big into segregation and other stuff,” Tyler said. “He said he wanted to start a civil war. He said he was going to do something like that and then kill himself.”

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Tyler said he met Roof, a Lexington, South Carolina native, through a good friend. He also said Roof’s parents, with whom he said the suspect was “on and off,” had previously bought him a gun but never allowed him to take it with him until this past week.

Dylan Roof’s grandfather, Joe Roof, declined to comment to ABC News.

Police said Roof was arrested today at a traffic stop in Shelby, North Carolina, about 250 miles north of Charleston.

A citizen saw the suspect’s car and reported it to police, who responded and made the arrest, police said. Roof cooperated with the officer who stopped him, according to police.

Officials said they believe Roof acted alone.

“I am so pleased we were able to resolve this case quickly,” Charleston Police Chief Gregory Mullen said at a news conference.

A court clerk confirmed to ABC News this afternoon that Roof waived extradition in North Carolina and is cleared to return to South Carolina.

ABC News’ Cleopatra Andreadis contributed to this report.

So, what happens next for Roof? (from ABC News):

He waived extradition in North Carolina and is now cleared to return to South Carolina. His travel plans are not immediately clear.

Once in Charleston, he’ll be arraigned. In South Carolina, you don’t plead (not guilty plea is presumed), you are just informed of your charges. He’ll be held at the Al Cannon Detention Center.

He can’t be let out on bond, per South Carolina law.

In a few weeks, he’ll have a preliminary hearing unless he waives it. It will be fairly  perfunctory, not a mini-trial as in some states.

Then, the case goes to a grand jury, which in South Carolina is quick and perfunctory.

Experts say his case could last 6 months (especially if Roof pleads guilty), or about 3 years if the death penalty is pursued.

State and Federal Agencies Both Have Jurisdiction:

Under South Carolina law, he could be charged with murder and other crimes, but South Carolina has no hate crime law. Under federal law, he could be charged with hate crimes and civil rights violations. Typically, state prosecutors try the case first and then the feds later prosecute on separate charges if they feel justice wasn’t served.

Per Josh Margolin, from a federal official involved in this situation: decision on which jurisdiction is not made yet. No idea when it will be made. Roof is being held on state charges but that doesn’t matter for the outcome. Feds and state are coordinating at every level. Prosecutors all know each other and have, in fact, worked together. The county solicitor (prosecutor) was, in fact, a fed prosecutor previously. Suspect’s mental state will be key to determining which jurisdiction – in addition to other matters. Will likely be a death penalty case in either jurisdiction. Unlikely but possible that it could be tried in both jurisdictions. No rule of thumb in South Carolina about which jurisdiction takes precedence in a murder. Plus, all bets are off given the heinous nature of the crime and the racial component. Capital case like this would be very costly for Charleston County but the county would likely view it as money that needs to be spent. Feds obviously have unlimited resources for this prosecution.

Death penalty could be pursued by state or fed prosecutors:

South Carolina is a death penalty state which has executed 43 people since 1976, making it the 9th highest state for executions.

By contrast, the feds have only executed 3 people since 1988, when the federal death penalty was reenacted. Experts believe Roof is more likely to get death under the state system.

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