A South Carolina judge has delayed the trial of Dylann Roof, who is accused in a mass shooting that killed nine people in a Charleston church in 2015. On Wednesday, Judge J.C. Nicholson granted Roof’s defense team’s request for supplementary psychiatric testing. Roof’s attorneys contend doctors need between two and six months to make a full assessment of the gunman who at shot parishioners at the Emanuel AME church during Bible study.
According to NBC News, the Charleston church shooter’s trial was scheduled to begin July 11. However, jury selection will begin in December, and the trial was postponed until January 2017.
Dylann Roof faces 33 federal charges, including three counts of attempted murder and nine counts of murder. Prosecutors said they will seek the death penalty against the 22-year-old man.
On June 17, 2015, Roof opened fire inside a Charleston church, killing eight people at the scene. A ninth person was later pronounced at the hospital. Prior to the shooting spree, witnesses said Dylann Roof spent over an hour in the church, seemingly participating in the Bible study. Huffington Post reports he suddenly went on a tirade, saying “I have to do it. You rape our women and you’re taking over our country … you have to go.”
Roof, who was 21 at the time of the shooting, confessed he wanted to start a race war. According to reports, the Charleston church shooter showed no remorse when he spoke with law enforcement officials, claiming he wants everyone to be aware of what he has done. The lone gunman also confessed he “almost did not go through with it because everyone at the Bible session was nice to him.”
Dylann Roof did spare the life of one woman, Sylvia Johnson, telling her to go “tell the world what happened.” The survivor said the young man reloaded his weapon five times even as he picked his victims one by one — three men and six women. Although the parishioners begged him to stop, their pleas were ignored.
— The Source Magazine (@TheSource) April 13, 2016
After he fled the scene, Roof was spotted by florist Debbie Dills, who was running late for work. Daily Mail reports Dills passed the familiar looking Hyundai at a red light. When she realized it matched the description of the vehicle driven by the suspected Charleston church shooter, she followed Roof for 35 miles — calling the police en route.
“I saw the news coverage and the picture of the car. I knew it was a black car and it had a tag on the front. I said I’ve seen that car for some reason. I look over and it’s got a South Carolina tag. Then I get closer and saw his hair cut.”
She continued “I felt bad. I felt really weird. I felt like it was him, but I didn’t want it to be him.” Dills said she initially convinced herself she was imagining things and continued on her way to work. However, she eventually turned around and followed the suspect.
Happy birthday to Dylann Roof pic.twitter.com/BrVjbcFTF4
— baby b (@BetzyZuniga) April 3, 2016
Authorities eventually caught up with Dills, and the Charleston church shooter, who surrendered to police without further incident.
Dylann Roof’s roommate, Dalton Tyler, said his friend had been planning the attack for over six months. Tyler said Roof spoke about starting a civil war and then committing suicide. The friend revealed, “He was big into segregation and other stuff.”
Another friend, Joseph Meek Jr., said Roof always complained about black Americans and said he would do something about it for the sake of the white race. Meek said his friend made disturbing comments about Trayvon Martin,who was killed in Florida, and Freddie Gray, who died in police custody.
A photograph of Dylann Roof, which was posted on his Facebook page, shows him staring intently at the camera and displaying the flag of apartheid South Africa.
[Image via Charleston County Sheriff’s Office via AP]