The man suspected of killing nine people Wednesday at an historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina, reportedly told neighbors last week that he planned on killing people before proclaiming during the shooting that he was there to “kill black people.” The friends alleged that Dylann Storm Roof, 21, said he was planning on shooting people at a local university, not at the church where the shooting took place.
Roof had a deadpan sense of humor, according to the neighbor, Christon Scriven, the New York Daily News reported. It was that sense of humor that kept Scriven from taking the threats seriously. Scriven, who is black, said that Roof had moved close to a trailer park just a couple of months ago. “He flat out told us he was going to do this stuff,” Scriven said. “He’s weird. You don’t know when to take him seriously and when not to.”
Exactly one week before the shooting, Roof said “he was looking to kill a bunch of people on Wednesday” at the College of Charleston, a state university in downtown Charleston with about 12,000 students, according to Scriven.
Roof entered Charleston Methodist Episcopal Church on Wednesday and sat down to take part in a prayer meeting. About an hour later, he began shooting, reloading five times and saying he was there to “shoot black people.”
Roof killed nine in the shooting, and he deliberately spared at least one person so that they could tell people what happened. During the shooting, when an individual was pleading with him to stop shooting, Roof reportedly replied, “You rape our women and you're taking over our country. And you have to go.”
Roof got a .45-caliber pistol for his 21st birthday in April, though it is still not known whether he used that weapon on Wednesday. He also recently had his first two adult arrests: the first one for drug possession after mall employees called the police because he was making them uncomfortable, and the second for trespassing at the mall after he was banned as a result of the first arrest.
Roof’s past is somewhat unclear. He completed his freshman year of high school in Lexington, South Carolina, but did not advance past that point. It is unclear whether he transferred to another school or simply dropped out.
A former classmate described him as “emo” and “shy” on Twitter. While growing up, his parents were going through a divorce, and he had an older sister. His older sister had scheduled her wedding for Sunday.