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Dylann Storm Root talked to friends about burning the American flag.
He also had a recent history of making violent threats.
The New York Times reported:
Joseph Meek, 20, a childhood friend who reconnected with Mr. Roof this year, said Mr. Roof had changed, spewing racist ideas and talking about wanting “to hurt a whole bunch of people.”
“He was saying all this stuff about how the races should be segregated, that whites should be with whites,” Mr. Meek said. “I could tell there was something inside him, there was something he wouldn’t let go. I was trying to tell him, ‘What’s wrong?’ All he would say was that he was planning to do something crazy.”
At first Mr. Meek said he did not take Mr. Roof seriously. But he became worried enough that several weeks ago he took away and hid Mr. Roof’s .45-caliber handgun, which Mr. Roof had bought with money given to him by his parents for his 21st birthday. But at the urging of his girlfriend, Mr. Meek returned the weapon because he was on probation and did not want to get into trouble.
Now Mr. Meek and his girlfriend, Lindsey Fry, both of whom are white, say they feel guilt about the shooting. “I feel we could have done something and prevented this whole thing,” Ms. Fry said.
A prayer service for Wednesday’s shooting victims held Thursday at the Morris Brown A.M.E. Church in Charleston, S.C.Op-Ed Contributor: No Sanctuary in CharlestonJUNE 18, 2015
The Rev. Clementa C. Pinckney in 2011.Op-Ed Contributor: Henry Louis Gates: If Clementa Pinckney Had LivedJUNE 18, 2015
Asked why Mr. Roof picked that particular church, Mr. Meek replied, “Because it was a black church.”
Another friend, Dalton Tyler, said that Mr. Roof had begun talking about wanting “to start a civil war.” But like Mr. Meek, he did not always take Mr. Roof seriously.
Mr. Tyler said on another occasion, the two were driving to a strip club by the zoo when Mr. Roof saw a black woman, used a racist word and said, “I’ll shoot your ass.”…
…Mr. Roof dropped out of high school after the ninth grade, Mr. Meek said, and the two fell out of touch. But this year, Mr. Roof sent him a Facebook friend request and the two got together again, often to go drinking or to strip clubs. Mr. Roof liked vodka and water, Mr. Meek said, adding, “I never saw him with a girl.”
He said Mr. Roof worked in landscaping and seemed to live an itinerant life, sometimes sleeping in his car. In recent weeks his behavior turned more bizarre, as he talked about wanting to burn an American flag and get his neck tattooed with the word “dagger.”