Government releases Dylann Roof confession video
CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The government released video which authorities say shows Dylann Roof confessing to the shooting at the Mother Emanuel AME church that took the lives of nine people.
The release of the video comes after jurors in Roof's federal trial heard the chilling video confession on Friday in which Roof said he specifically targeted African Americans because of his perception of offenses they had committed across the country.
The video shows two FBI agents questioning Roof in Shelby, North Carolina a day after the shooting in downtown Charleston.
Officers had taken Roof into custody following a traffic stop in Shelby.
Roof told the agents he committed the slayings because he said blacks were raping white women and killing each other, and that what he did was much more "minuscule" than that.
As the video tape confession played in federal court Friday, Roof, who faces 33 federal charges including hate crimes, was seen sitting very still and looking down at the defense table.
In the video, Roof is seen laughing at times in response to some of the FBI agents questions like when an agent reminded him that he left a woman alive to tell the story of what happened.
Roof told the agents that he had considered targeting a black festival, but did not because of security. He said attacking people doing illegal things such as dealing drugs was too great a risk for his own safety.
The video shows Roof telling investigators that he is a white supremacist, saying, "White people are superior."
"I don't think the white race is the dominant race," Roof said."I think it should be though."
Roof went on to say he would like to reinstate segregation and felt it was not a bad system.
He told investigators that his views were not shared with his friends and he did not talk about it with them. Roof also said he has never discussed his views on race with his family.
According to Roof, the Trayvon Martin case was what "woke him up." The 2012 case happened in Florida in which George Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin.
Roof told the investigators that he followed accounts of the case and it eventually led him to type the words "black-on-white crime" into a search engine.
During the video confession, agents are seen discussing photos of Roof one of which shows him wearing a jacket with a patch of a South African flag, while another shows a patch of the Rhodesian flag.
The agents later discuss another photo which shows the number "1488." Roof explained in the video that the "14" references securing the future of white children and the "88" stands for "Heil Hitler."
Roof tells the agents that people should "do something" to stand up for whites not only in America, but Europe as well.
He tells the agents that the actions do not necessarily have to be violent.
At one point in the video, the agents ask Roof what he thinks should happen if a black man walked into a church and shot nine people.
Roof is seen not answering for a few moments with the agents indicating that the look on his face appears to show that he has an opinion.
Roof is then heard saying the shooter in that scenario should probably die as well.
"I am guilty. We all know I'm guilty," Roof tells the investigators in the interview.
Roof described in detail the actions he took the night of the Mother Emanuel shooting, and spoke about how the victims dove under tables when the shots rang out.
In the video, Roof tells agents he chose the church in part because it is the oldest black church in the South.
He also says he knew there would be a small group of blacks there. Roof told the agents he had driven by the church before the shooting to inquire about worship services.
Roof believed that the parishioners at the church were "very surprised" that a white man was walking into an African American church.
According to Roof, he was going back and forth in his mind whether he should open fire or not. Roof said it was a "jerk reaction" that preceded him ultimately using his weapon.
He told investigators that he left all the ammunition magazines on the ground when all the rounds had been fired.
According to Roof, after the shooting he walked outside and did not know what to expect.
"Well, to be honest, I was in absolute awe that there was nobody out there,"Roof told investigators.
Roof said he planned to kill himself but changed his mind when no police officers showed up immediately after the shooting. Roof added he would not have opened fire on police.
Roof told the FBI he was not under the influence of drugs the night of the shooting. He indicated that he was at his father's home on the night and morning before the shooting.
When the agents asked Roof if he had any regrets about what he did at the church, Roof replied, "Yeah, I'd say so."
Roof appeared to be in disbelief in the video when agents told him there were nine victims.
"Well, it makes me feel bad," Roof responds when agents ask him how he honestly feels.
The FBI agents asked during the video confession what Roof wanted to be remembered for. Roof replied, "I don't know."
Afterwards, an agent asked him what he think should happen to him to which Roof replies,"I don't know how to answer that."
Towards the end of the video FBI agents ask him where he would like to go and Roof says,"Home."
FBI Agent Michael Stansbury testified that the last thing he said to Roof was his plan to start a race war did not work and the people of Charleston were coming together.
Roof's defense team has largely conceded their client's guilt and has instead tried to focus on sparing him the death penalty.
Brittany Burke of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigations was called back to the stand on Friday to testify on the recovery and processing of Roof's car.
Among the pictures shown of the vehicle was a black plastic bag that was found on the floor which contained an ammunition tray with several rounds.
According to Burke, the ammunition consisted of .45 caliber hollow point bullets which are consistent with what was found at Mother Emanuel.
The prosecution also showed a picture of a handgun under some clothing in Roof's vehicle.
A white, long sleeved shirt with a large splatter stain was also shown to jurors. Burke said it was the same shirt Roof was spotted seen wearing on surveillance video as he was leaving Mother Emanuel.
Burke also read two notes that were found in the rear of the vehicle.
Burke said the first note started,"Dear mom, I love you. I'm sorry for what I did, but I had to do it."
Further along the note, the letter stated, "I know that what I did will have repercussions on my whole family."
Burke read the second note which stated,"Dear dad, I love you, and I am sorry. You were a good dad."
The government also entered into evidence a journal which was also found in the rear of Roof's car.
Burke also read through some of the contents of the journal which included a sentence at the top that stated,"I was not raised in a racist home or environment."
According to Burke, the journal references the Trayvon Martin case and states that George Zimmerman was in the right for shooting Martin. Burke says the journal indicated that the writer then searched "black-on-white crime."
A header on the fourth page of the journal said "Blacks." Burke said a racial term is used in the journal to describe African Americans, and the author describes them as "stupid and violent."
A portion of the journal that Burke reads states, "Blacks are held to a lower standard in general."
Burke continued reading through the journal which included a portion where the author described being at a stoplight as a school bus pulled up beside him.
All the students on it were black, except for one white student, according to the written account.
"He looked like he was in a living hell and I believed he was," Burke read from the journal, which described the author's thoughts on seeing the white student on the bus.
"I have read hundreds of slave narratives from my state and only about one in 20 had even one negative thing to say," stated a portion of the journal.
Another header in the journal read "Jews." Burke said the author said the the problem is Jews look white, and in many cases they are white, yet they still see themselves as minorities.
An additional header in the journal is "Religion."
The author writes he doesn't consider himself a Christian at the moment, but Christianity is, historically, a very important part of white culture.
On one of the final pages of the journal, the author wrote, "I planned and went about it completely alone."
In a motion filed Friday morning, defense attorneys argued that evidence about Roof's state of mind and personal characteristics is relevant in the guilt phase for several reasons, including the fact that the prosecution's first witness, survivor Felicia Sanders, testified about what she believed Roof's state of mind and characteristics were at the time and because without such evidence for the defense being allowed, the guilt phase of the trial will be "one-sided and a disservice to justice."
Various videos and images were shown to jurors Thursday, including surveillance video of the churchgoers entering the building.
The jury saw a bloody scene with victims lying on the floor and ammunition magazines scattered around the room.
Prosecutors also showed video of the accused gunman arriving and leaving alone later that night.
Roof faces life in prison or the death penalty if convicted.
Copyright 2016 WCSC. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.