(CNN) — For Dylann Roof’s friends, talk of sparking a race war or wanting segregation reinstated was nothing new.
But then again, they didn’t think he was serious.
After all, they had known him for years.
“He never said the n-word, he never made racial slurs, he never targeted a specific black person,” his roommate Joey Meek told ABC News. “He never did any of that, so it was just pretty much a shock.”
Police say it was Roof who opened fire at a prayer meeting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, on Wednesday, killing nine people.
Meek didn’t take his claims about Roof to authorities before Thursday morning, the day after the shooting, ABC reported.
Due in court
Roof was arrested Thursday morning about 245 miles (395 kilometers) from Charleston in Shelby, North Carolina. He waived extradition and returned to South Carolina late Thursday.
Roof is awaiting his bond hearing in the case, which could take place Friday.
He might still be on the run if police hadn’t gotten a tip from Debbie Dills, who reportedly spotted Roof on her way into work.
“I don’t know what drew my attention to the car,” she told CNN’s Don Lemon. She saw it had a South Carolina license plate. “In my mind I’m thinking, ‘That can’t be.’ … I never dreamed that it would be the car.”
Dills followed Roof for more than 30 miles, keeping authorities updated along the way.
Shelby police eventually caught up with Roof, pulled him over and took him into custody before returning him to Charleston.
Friends and family
A more comprehensive picture of Roof is developing as police pursue the case.
John Mullins, who attended White Knoll High School with Roof, told CNN on Thursday that the suspect was “kind of wild” but not violent.
“He was … calm,” Mullins said. “That’s why all this is such a shock.”
Mullins said Roof occasionally made racist comments, although he had black friends.
“They were just racist slurs in a sense,” he said. “He would say it just as a joke. … I never took it seriously, but now that he shed his other side, so maybe they should have been taken more seriously.”
Roof repeated the ninth grade at the Lexington County high school, said Mary Beth Hill of the Lexington School District, west of Columbia, South Carolina. She said he was “very transient,” that he “came and went.”
In a Washington Post interview, Roof’s uncle, Carson Cowles, said his mother “never raised him to be like this.”
Police are investigating the shooting as a hate crime.
“The whole world is going to be looking at his family who raised this monster,” Cowles said. “I’d be the executioner myself if they would allow it.”
Before opening fire
Roof spent about an hour at the historic AME church before the massacre, attending the prayer meeting with his eventual victims, Charleston police Chief Greg Mullen said.
Witnesses told investigators the gunman stood up and said he was there “to shoot black people,” a law enforcement official said.
“You rape our women, and you’re taking over our country. And you have to go,” Sylvia Johnson, a cousin of the church’s slain pastor, said Roof told his victims, according to CNN affiliate WIS.
Investigators are looking into whether Roof had links to white supremacist or other hate groups, a law enforcement official said. There’s no indication so far that he was known to law enforcement officials who focus on hate groups.
In an image tweeted by authorities in Berkeley County, South Carolina, Roof is seen wearing a jacket with what appear to be the flags of apartheid-era South Africa and nearby Rhodesia, a former British colony that a white minority ruled until it became independent in 1980 and changed its name to Zimbabwe.
Banned from mall
The months leading up to the shooting were a mix of troubling and odd.
Police in his hometown of Columbia — about 120 miles northwest of Charleston — obtained a warrant for his arrest in early March. He had been picked up on drug charges a few days earlier at Columbiana Centre mall, according to a police report.
Workers at two stores told mall security that Roof was acting strangely, asking “out of the ordinary questions,” the police report said.
Roof initially said he wasn’t carrying anything illegal. But he agreed to be searched and an officer found “a small unlabeled white bottle containing multiple orange … square strips” in his jacket, the police report said.
They turned out to be suboxone, which is used to treat opiate addiction, according to the police report. Roof said he got the strips from a friend.
He was arrested on a drug possession charge that day in late February, but it’s unclear why the March 1 arrest warrant was issued.
On April 26, police were again called to Columbiana Centre because Roof, who had been banned from the mall for a year after his drug arrest, had returned, the police report said. The ban was extended to three years after his second arrest.
Roof turned 21 in April, and a short time later he had a gun.
A senior law enforcement official briefed on the investigation told CNN that Roof’s father bought him a .45-caliber Glock handgun.
But the story is different when you talk to Roof’s grandfather. He told CNN that his grandson was given “birthday money” and that the family didn’t know what Roof did with it.
It’s not known whether that handgun was used when Roof allegedly opened fire Wednesday night at the prayer meeting.
Two more stories
Two more versions of the gun purchase emerged late Thursday, although they generally support the existing narratives.
Dalton Tyler, a friend and former Roof roommate, told CNN that Roof’s parents bought him the gun, but withheld it from him until he learned how to use it. Tyler said Roof finally got it last week.
With a few additional details, this lines up with what law enforcement is saying.
Separately, The New York Times reported that Roof bought the gun from birthday money his parents gave him. That supports the grandfather’s version of events.
What’s different in the Times story is that another roommate, Joey Meek, said he hid the gun because he was worried about Roof, who he said was saying troubling things about segregation and “planning to do something crazy.”
Meek told the Times that he eventually gave the gun back at the urging of his girlfriend, because “he was on probation and did not want to get in trouble.”
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