Dylann Roof’s friend to be investigated

2015-09-17 09:14
Alleged Charleston shooter Dylann Roof. (Charleston County Sheriff's Office, AP)

Alleged Charleston shooter Dylann Roof. (Charleston County Sheriff's Office, AP)

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Columbia - A friend of the white man accused of shooting nine black churchgoers to death in Charleston, South Carolina, is being investigated by US federal authorities, an official said on Wednesday.

Joey Meek, 21, of South Carolina, was notified by a so-called target letter that he is under investigation for lying to police and for knowing about a crime before or after it was committed but failing to report it, the official told the AP.

The official was not authorised to speak publicly about the investigation and requested anonymity. The disclosure was first reported by The State newspaper.

Meek told the AP that Dylann Roof occasionally stayed with him at a mobile home before the June 17 shootings at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Meek said that he and Roof were school friends but went their separate ways. Then, just weeks before the shooting, he started seeing Roof again.

Drunken, racist rant

Meek also described how Roof, while drunk on vodka, complained that "blacks were taking over the world" and that "someone needed to do something about it for the white race" before he passed out.

Meek said he took away Roof's gun the night of his rant but gave it back when he sobered up.

Meek also told the AP that he called authorities after recognising Roof from surveillance footage from the church. He also said Roof said he used birthday money from his parents to buy a .45-caliber Glock semi-automatic handgun.

Meek is on probation, having pleaded guilty earlier this year to possessing a stolen vehicle, according to Lexington County court records.

The disclosure came as a judge overseeing the state case against Roof said that he would modify his order blocking the release to the media of emergency calls, witness statements and other documents stemming from the investigation into the slayings.

During a hearing that Roof did not attend, Circuit Judge JC Nicholson said some information ultimately could be released by authorities but expressed concern that the victims' families would be traumatised again with the release of graphic crime scene photographs and audio tapes of the emergency calls.

Roof to plead guilty

Attorneys for various news organisations, including The Associated Press, and the victims' families agreed to meet with Nicholson behind closed doors to review the material and decide what should be released.

Nicholson indicated that releasing the transcripts of the emergency calls - not the audio tapes themselves - might be the best course.

All the documents, if used at trial, would be public. While the judge didn't say specifically when he might modify his order, Jay Bender, an attorney representing the media groups, said he expected it could be a couple of weeks.

During the hearing, an attorney for Roof said his client wants to plead guilty to the murder and other charges against him in exchange for a life prison sentence without parole. State prosecutors have said they will pursue the death penalty at trial.

Read more on:    dylann roof  |  us  |  us shootings

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