Friends who opened their home to Dylann Roof this spring are painting a sharper picture of Roof as well as his actions the June morning before he allegedly gunned down nine parishioners in a historic black church in downtown Charleston.
Roof didn’t tell his friends he was going to Charleston that day, they told The State newspaper reporters in recent days. But the friends said they discovered what appeared to be gun magazines filled with bullets in a black bookbag Roof had in his car’s back seat that morning.
Lindsey Fry, 19, lives with the Meek family in a Red Bank trailer where Roof slept on and off in the weeks before the shootings. Fry and Fry’s boyfriend, Joseph “Joey” Meek Jr., 21, talked to reporters for The State this week before he was arrested Thursday and indicted Friday in federal court, pleading not guilty to charges of concealing evidence of a felony and lying to an FBI agent in the case.
Fry, who did most of the talking when reporters visited the trailer several times recently, told The State that she and other members of the Meek family were with Roof early on the day of the shooting. They also described Roof and his habits in more depth.
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Roof, 21, of Columbia, drove the friends to Lake Murray that morning and dropped them off at the swimming area, the friends have told reporters before. But while they were still in the car, Fry said last week, one of the Meek brothers spilled ice on a “black bookbag” Roof had in the backseat.
When the brother hurried to push aside the ice, he felt something hard in the bag, Fry said. Roof told his backseat passengers to be careful, saying there were “magazines” in there, Fry said. Aside from a joke about the bag being filled with porn magazines, which Roof denied, Fry said that no one in the car followed up by asking what type of magazines Roof meant.
In hindsight, they think it was his ammunition.
Roof dropped his friends off at the lake and said he planned to watch “Jurassic World” alone at a movie theater, Fry said. He told them he would be back at the trailer later that night if he did not stay with his mother or father. Fry said it was not unusual for Roof to watch movies alone or for him to skip swimming with them at the lake.
“He didn’t like to take his shirt off,” Fry said.
Fry said Roof never contacted her or the Meeks between the time he dropped them off at the lake and when he allegedly killed nine people, including state Sen. Clementa Pinckney, D-Jasper, at “Mother” Emanuel AME church in Charleston, around 9 p.m. that night.
Roof is being held in a Charleston jail. He was indicted by a federal grand jury July 22 on federal hate crime charges, nine counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder. Roof also has been indicted by a Charleston County grand jury on nine counts of murder. Ninth Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson is seeking the death penalty. Federal authorities have not yet announced whether they will seek the death penalty.
Fry said she had thought Roof’s actions were “weird” since around late May, about a month after Roof resurfaced in the life of former middle school friend Joey Meek. Roof contacted Meek through Facebook and asked for a place to stay.
“He (Dylann) said, ‘Hey, I’m around, can I come out and chill?’” Lindsey recalled. To find their trailer park, which is off Platt Springs Road in Lexington County and not very well marked, he had to use MapQuest.
For the next several weeks, Fry and Meek said, Roof alternated sleeping between the Meek trailer in Red Bank, his father’s house near downtown Columbia and his mother’s home in Hopkins. While in Red Bank, he would sometimes sleep on the floor and sometimes in his car.
During his stays at the Meek trailer, Fry said, Roof often watched movies and videos and never wanted to go swimming with his friends. She said Roof especially enjoyed watching “Titanic,” that he frequently wore a sun hat and small scarves around his neck and that he was rarely seen in short-sleeved shirts, even on hot summer days.
Roof, who didn’t finish classes in high school but had a GED, frequently went to the library alone, Fry said – she didn’t know which one.
She speculated that’s where he worked on the online racist manifesto he is believed to have published, which was found in the days after the shootings.
When the friends saw Roof’s image June 18 on television, in surveillance camera footage from Emanuel AME, Fry said the friends recognized him more than through his dark-blond, bowl-shaped haircut.
Roof was wearing his favorite T-shirt – gray, long-sleeved and stained with battery acid. He wore it a lot, Fry said. They also said they recognized the fanny pack he was wearing.
‘He loved that song’
When he was upset, the friends told reporters earlier, Roof would go to his car and listen to opera. But Roof’s musical interests spanned from classical music to rap, Fry said last week.
Roof was enthralled with the song “Ice Cream Truck,” in which artist Montana of 300 raps about participating in a neighborhood drive-by shooting.
Among the song’s lyrics: “Head shots when I’m firin’ off/Your brains on the sidewalk” and “I bet bodies drop/them kids never had a chance.”
“He loved that song,” Fry said.
Roof often danced and sang along, Fry said, and he mimicked the rapper’s hand motions from the song’s music video (explicit content), which has gotten more than 10 million views on YouTube.
While he didn’t seem to work much, Roof almost always had money to spend, Fry and Meek said.
Fry said Roof was “always trying to get different drugs,” that he used cocaine daily and that he often got drunk on cheap vodka. Fry also recalled Roof using Suboxone, a drug used to treat opioid addiction, although she said Roof never admitted to being addicted to heroin. Roof did not smoke marijuana around the Meeks, Fry said.
Fry also shared a possible explanation for one part of a manifesto Roof allegedly posted online. The penultimate paragraph of the posting explains that many of the writer’s “best thoughts” have been “left out and lost forever.”
Fry said that Roof’s laptop had broken some time before the shootings and that he had not gotten it fixed. She speculated that he might have written a more detailed manifesto on that computer and that he had to rush to write a new one, perhaps at the library.
Joey didn’t go along with Roof’s extremist views, Fry said. “Dylann brought the American flag in here one day and asked Joey to take a picture of him burning it. Joey said, “No way.’”
While Roof displays the Confederate flag in many photos posted on the now-defunct website registered in his name, thelastrhodesian.com, there also was a photo of him burning the U.S. flag, among other photos that have him as the focal point. He must have used a tripod, Fry said.
Just before Joey was arrested last week, Fry said she knew the FBI has been looking at her, too.
In early July, she said, she got a letter from the Facebook Legal Response Team, telling her that law enforcement agents had filed a legal action to view her Facebook account. “If we don’t hear from you in 10 days saying you have challenged this ... we will respond to” the law enforcement agency,” the letter said. She did not respond.
Fry has a playful dog, Daisy, that stays in the trailer, and Roof often used his foot to shove it away when it tried to cozy up to him. “He was mean to Daisy,” she said.
Dylann “was weird,” Fry said. “I can’t explain it. I never met anyone like him. I wish he had never even come over here.”
Since Meek and Fry talked to The State, Joey Meek has been arrested by the FBI. Fry has declined further comment.