Deputies investigating how inmate could reach accused church shooter in jail assault

Published: Aug. 4, 2016 at 3:49 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 6, 2016 at 3:04 AM EDT
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Dwayne Stafford. (Source: CCDC)
Dwayne Stafford. (Source: CCDC)

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The Charleston County sheriff said an investigation is underway to determine how an inmate being held on a strong armed robbery charge could reach a fellow inmate accused in the shooting deaths of nine at a Charleston church.

At a Thursday afternoon news conference, Sheriff Al Cannon said Dylann Roof was let out of his cell at approximately 7:45 a.m. to take a shower. Officers checked cells in the area prior to that to make sure they were locked, he said.

But Cannon said inmate Dwayne Stafford ran down the stairs and assaulted Roof quickly before Roof had stepped into the shower.

The fight was broken up by detention officers, Cannon said.

Cannon said Roof suffered some bruising around his face and on his back. It appeared he was struck with a fist.

Roof and his attorneys are not pressing charges in the assault, according to Cannon.

"We are looking at the issue of the door lock and what may have failed there," Cannon said. He said they are also interviewing jail employees. He said it should not take long to complete interviews of jail employees, but is unsure how long an analysis of the lock mechanism in the door will take.

But he cited complacency as a possible contributing factor to the incident.

Cannon said Roof is always escorted by detention officers, but that an officer was dropping off toilet paper when the assault happened and that a second officer was taking a break, something he says is not common procedure during the time an inmate would be taking a shower.

"This serves as a wake-up call," Cannon said. "Up and down the chain, we have to ensure that our folks do not fall prey to the routine."

The detention officers had been on shift for approximately 15 minutes when the assault happened, deputies say. The names of the officers have not released the names of the officers.

"Given the circumstances surrounding this incident, an internal investigation and review will be conducted by the Sheriff's Office, Office of Professional Standards," CCSO officials stated in a press release.

Roof, charged with murder in the deaths of nine people at Mother Emanuel AME church in June 2015, is being held in solitary confinement at the Charleston County Detention Center. He is escorted out of his cell daily for recreation time and showers.

Stafford is in jail for strong armed robbery, assault, and for lying to police, Cannon said.

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