Charleston church massacre detailed in newly released documents
Police logs released on Thursday revealed a chilling account of the June 17 massacre at a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina, that killed nine people.
The accounts cited calls from a person inside Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, and another who hid in an office in the church, which is the oldest African-American congregation in the southern United States.
“People shot down … Shot pastor … Man is still here … Lower level …,” an entry in the police communications log said.
An entry one minute later said, “Young white male … Male is reloading.
“Shots have been fired. The number of shots fired is: SO MANY.”
According to the report, authorities were aware of a woman hiding under an office desk with her daughter in the church. They also knew the suspected shooter had fled out the church’s back door.
Dylann Roof, 21, has been charged with murder and state prosecutors are seeking the death penalty. He also faces nearly three dozen federal hate crime and weapons charges in what authorities say was a racially motivated rampage.
The heavily redacted police reports and photographs released by the Charleston Police Department on Thursday make up some of the evidence against Roof. Some media organizations who sued to get the documents made public said police went too far in blacking out names, comments and key details.
A state judge this month lifted a gag order placed on the evidence but decided that graphic crime scene photographs, audio of 911 emergency phone calls and other sensitive materials would remain sealed to protect the victims.
State prosecutor Scarlett Wilson said in a letter to media that further investigative reports would be withheld if her office decided they infringed on the privacy of the survivors and families of victims or could harm Roof’s right to a fair trial.
The released documents said Roof was quiet and compliant when officers located him in Shelby, North Carolina, the morning after the massacre and pulled over his car about 10:30 a.m. When asked if he knew why he was detained, he nodded his head.
A sergeant asked Roof if police should know about anything in his car.
“Yeah, there’s a gun in the backseat,” Roof said, according to the report.
(Writing by Letitia Stein; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Bill Trott)