A friend said the alleged gunman who killed nine people in a historic black South Carolina expressed white supremacist views after they reconnected earlier this year.
Joey Meek said he got together with Dylann Storm Roof, a former middle school classmate, a few weeks ago after the 21-year-old sent him a Facebook message, and the two spent part of Wednesday together before the massacre, reported The Associated Press.
Roof, who is accused of gunning down worshipers at Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, was arrested Thursday morning after a motorist spotted him in North Carolina.
Meek called the FBI after recognizing roof in surveillance photos released by investigators, saying his friend had worn the same sweatshirt when they played Xbox video games at Meek’s home the morning of the terrorist attack.
“I didn’t think it was him – I knew it was him,” Meek told a reporter after speaking with investigators.
An expert on hate groups said it’s not clear whether Roof had any ties to the 16 known white supremacist groups operating in South Carolina, but the official with the Southern Poverty Law Center said the alleged gunman was clearly influenced by white supremacist views.
Roof’s Facebook profile photo shows him wearing a jacket with patches of the apartheid-era flags of South Africa and Rhodesia, which is now Zimbabwe, and another Facebook photo shows a Confederate States of America license plate on the front bumper of his car.
Meek said Roof, while the pair got drunk on vodka, ranted about his racist views and indicated an obsession with the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin and riots in Baltimore over the death of Freddie Gray.
“He said blacks were taking over the world (and) someone needed to do something about it for the white race,” Meek said, echoing claims made by a survivor about Roof’s statements during the shooting.
“He said he wanted segregation between whites and blacks,” the friend added. “I said, ‘That’s not the way it should be,’ but he kept talking about it.”
Meek said his friend told him that he was so angry about the uproar over Martin’s killing by George Zimmerman that he “wanted something to spark up the race war again,” but he was still surprised when Roof was implicated in the terrorist attack.
“He never said the N-word, he never made racial slurs, he never targeted a specific black person,” Meek said. “He never did any of that, so it was just pretty much a shock.”
Roof was arrested Feb. 28 at the Columbiana Centre mall, where employees at Bath & Body Works complained that he was making them nervous by asking how many associates were working, what time they closed, and what time they left the mall.
Police said Roof told them his parents had been pressuring him to get a job, but they said he never asked for an application at any store at the mall.
He was arrested for illegal possession of Suboxone, which is used to treat opiate addiction, and banned from the mall for a year.
But Roof was arrested April 26 for trespassing in the mall’s parking lot.
The friend said Roof told him that he used birthday money he received from his parents in early April to buy a .45-caliber Glock pistol.
Roof told him that he had “a plan,” but he wouldn’t say what it was.
Meek said his friend’s comments scared him enough that he took the weapon out of Roof’s car and hid it at his house until the next day.
“I didn’t think he would do anything,” Meek said.
Meek said he awoke Wednesday, the day of the killings, to find Roof sleeping in his car outside.
He said Roof declined an invitation to join Meek and his brother at a lake because he hated the outdoors, and he planned to see a movie instead.
Meek’s brother said Roof told him to be careful moving his backpack in the car because of the magazines inside, and he assumed he meant periodicals – not devise that store ammunition.
“Now it all makes sense,” Jacob Meek said.
Watch an interview with Meek posted online by ABC News: