A 21-year-old arrested for gunning down nine people in a Charleston, South Carolina, church prayer meeting late Wednesday has been charged with nine counts of murder and a weapons possession charge, even as authorities are reporting he confessed to the killings.
Fox News reported Friday a source close to the investigation confirmed Dylann Roof admitted gunning down the victims.
In court proceedings, he was charged with murder nine times and the weapons count for the mass atrocity at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.
Authorities say Roof walked into a Bible study class, stayed until it was just about over and then began shooting the victims at the historical church in South Carolina.
He was arrested Thursday in North Carolina after a commuter noticed a vehicle matching the description of the one sought by police.
Meanwhile, NBC carried a report that Roof told investigators he “almost didn’t go through with it because everyone was so nice to him,” sources told NBC News.
And yet he decided he had to “go through with his mission” that had been in the works for months.
A Snapchat video reportedly taken by one of the few survivors of the attack shows a small group of people gathered together inside the church. All of them are black except for one man, according to CBS News.
The U.S. Department of Justice has opened a “hate crimes” investigation into the mass murder as Gov. Nikki Haley, who had been torn by emotion a day earlier when she said the heart of the state had been ripped out, said, “We will absolutely want him to have the death penalty.”
Fox reported two of the targets survived by playing dead.
“Cynthia Taylor, whose 87-year-old aunt Susie Jackson was among the victims, told the Associated Press that shooting survivor Felecia Sanders told Taylor that Sanders had played dead as she lay on top of her granddaughter to protect her during the shooting. Another survivor, a trustee of the church, said Roof told her he would let her live so that she could tell others what had happened.”
As Roof started shooting, he said, “I have to do it. You rape our women and you’re taking over our country. And you have to go.” That was from Sylvia Johnson, a cousin of Emanuel’s murdered pastor, state Sen. Clementa Pinckney, in an interview with NBC.
Acquaintances of the suspect said he had taken recently to making racial statements, such as that he wanted segregation.
Fox reported Roof’s Facebook page, since shut down, carried a picture of Roof staring into the camera while wearing patches of the flags of apartheid South Africa and Rhodesia, now called Zimbabwe, when it was ruled by whites.
CNN reported police sources told them Roof explained he carried out the shooting because he wanted to start a race war.
“By telling authorities his aim, Roof admitted he attacked unarmed civilians for political purposes in an act of terror,” CNN said.
Roof initially is expected to be represented by a member of the public defender’s office.
The report said Roof had been given money for his birthday recently, and he purchased a .45-caliber handgun at a Charleston gun store.
CNN also said he had asked one of the members of the prayer and Bible study whether he had shot her, and she said no.
“And he said, ‘Good, because we need a survivor because I’m going to kill myself,” the source reported.
WND reported on Thursday that a picture was beginning to emerge of Roof as a man into long-term and hard-core drug abuse.
Evidence suggests Roof had been using a powerful narcotic, Suboxone, which is prescribed to treat pain and opiate addictions including heroin. This drug is also sold illegally on the street and police say this is how Roof came into its possession.
According to a CBS News report, Roof went into a Bath and Body Works store on Feb. 28 wearing all black. He asked “out of the ordinary questions,” including how many associates were working, when they closed and what time they leave. Mall employees complained, and when an officer approached him Roof said his parents were pressuring him to “get a job.”
The officer searched Roof and found “orange strips” that Roof said were “Suboxone,” a Schedule III narcotic. Police arrested Roof and had his 2000 Hyundai Elantra towed.
John Mullins, who went to high school with Roof, told The Daily Beast that he remembers him as being “kind of wild” and a “pill popper.”
“He used drugs heavily a lot,” Mullins said. “It was obviously harder than marijuana. He was like a pill popper, from what I understood. Like Xanax, and stuff like that.”
Suboxone is even more hardcore than Xanax.
According to Drugs.com, Suboxone is prescribed for treatment of patients addicted to methadone, heroin, morphine or other opioid drugs. “[It] should be used as part of a complete treatment plan to include counseling and psychosocial support,” according to the site.
Mental Health Daily lists the adverse reactions associated with Suboxone as extreme depression and dysphoria, depersonalization, confusion and anxiety, irritability, mood swings and “fear of going crazy.” These adverse effects can be most acute during the patient’s withdrawal period.
If Roof was using the drug without the supervision of a doctor, he could have also been mixing it with alcohol. That increases the negative side effects, several medical websites warn.
“You may not feel like yourself during the withdrawal, which may cause you to freak out,” warns Medical Health Daily. “If you are feeling as though you have become a totally different person … And chemically, you have become a different person – your endorphin and neurotransmitters are different than they were when you started. It will take a while to feel like your ‘old self’ again.”
See WND’s extensive coverage of the Charleston, South Carolina, church massacre: