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Dylann Roof Headed to Death Row
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Dylan Roof

Summary: The convicted white supremacist responsible for shooting nine innocent people at a church has pleaded guilty to the federal charges, making way for his move to death row.

A much anticipated announcement has come from white supremacist Dylann Roof in Charleston, South Carolina. Roof, 23, pleaded guilty to all state charges for shooting nine people at a predominantly black church in the city during a prayer service. A federal jury sentenced Roof to death in January for the massacre at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in June of 2015.


The guilty plea at the Charleston County Courthouse allows for his federal imprisonment on death row to start. Solicitor for the state’s Ninth Judicial Court, Scarlett A. Wilson said, “This is the surest way to see that Dylann Roof is executed. We hope that today truly will close a chapter for these victims.” With this plea deal, there will be no state trial or sentencing phase. He pleaded to nine murder charges, three attempted murder charges, and a weapons charge. He was sentenced to nine consecutive life sentences in addition to three consecutive 30-year sentences.

In his court appearance, Roof gave one-word answers to questions from the judge but did not provide any other words. Family members of the victims did provide more words. They spoke on forgiveness in the face of this tragedy. The church’s pastor, Rev. Eric Manning said, “The impact to the church has been far-reaching. We visit the crime scene every day. The impact has been felt throughout our entire congregation. Love is stronger than hate. Hate will never win.”

The grandfather of Roof, Joe Roof, added, “We are just sick over what has happened to these families. We have them in our prayers every night, every meal. It’s the only thing we can do. What happened here, I will never understand.”

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Roof will be the 63rd person on federal death row where he will spend his time in a facility in Terre Haute, Indiana. His explanation for the killings was “black people are killing white people every day.” Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Richardson said in court that Roof admitted to scouting out his targets multiple times before the shooting. Roof even joined the church Bible study group for 40 minutes before finally pulling the trigger over “75 times…reloading seven times” as he stood over the victims, shooting repeatedly.

A friend of Roof’s told police that the Trayvon Martin shooting and the 2015 Baltimore protests from the death of Freddie Gray sparked his outrage at black people. He repeatedly ranted to friends and neighbors that “blacks were taking over the world” and that he wanted to kill people, specifically an attack on the College of Charleston, but no one took him seriously. Roof wanted to start a civil war. As he stated in his online manifesto, “I have no choice. I am not in the position to, alone, go into the ghetto and fight. I chose Charleston because it is the most historic city in my state, and at one time had the highest ratio of blacks to Whites in the country. We have no skinheads, no real KKK, no one doing anything but talking on the internet. Well someone has to have the bravery to take it to the real world, and I guess that has to be me.”

Roof is the first person in US history to face both state and federal death penalty sentences.

To learn more about the shootings that motivated Roof, read these articles:




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