Charleston shooter wanted to start race war; surprised at 'nice' church people

by Kimberly Pennington, National Correspondent |
Police lead Dylann Roof, the only suspect in the mass shooting at Charleston's Emanuel AME Church, into the courthouse in Shelby, North Carolina, June 18, 2015. Roof, a 21-year-old with a criminal record, is accused of killing nine people at a Bible-study meeting in the historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina. Police and FBI officials are investigating the incident as a hate crime. Roof was apprehended within 24 hours of the shooting. | REUTERS/Jason Miczek

CHARLESTON, S.C. (Christian Examiner) -- Dylann Roof confessed to police that he wanted to start a race war according to High Point, North Carolina FOX News Affiliate WGHP. Roof, a 21-year-old South Carolina man has been charged with nine counts of murder and 1 count of possession of a firearm and is expected to have a bond hearing today.

He told police, however, that he "almost didn't go through with it because everyone was so nice to him," sources told NBC News.

Roof's longtime friend, Joey Meek, told ABC News yesterday that Roof wanted segregation and had been planning the attack for months.

"I think he wanted something big like Trayvon Martin. He wanted to make something spark up the race war again," Meek stated. Meek never contacted police until seeing the Emanuel A.M.E. church surveillance camera image of Roof on Thursday morning.

National outrage about the relationship between race and law enforcement emerged in 2012 after Martin, an unarmed teenager, was gunned down by neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman.

Roof, who is white, allegedly told the African American congregants gathered for prayer, "You rape our women, and you're taking over our country," before firing a weapon.

Police are now investigating whether Roof had any ties to organized hate groups though, according to ABC, his personal friends do not believe that to be the case. They described him instead as a loner who dropped out of school.

Conflicting reports are also emerging as to how Meeks obtained a.45-caliber Glock handgun that may have been used in the attack. Earlier reports indicated Meeks received the gun as a 21st birthday present from his father while other reports indicate Meeks purchased the gun himself using money received for his birthday.

Regardless of motive or means, at least one African American pastor believes society's growing hostility toward Christianity may have also been a factor in the South Carolina incident.

Bishop E.W. Jackson, pastor of Hope Christian Church, told Fox and Friends Thursday morning, "We don't know why he went into a church. But he didn't choose a bar, he didn't choose a basketball court, he chose a church. And we need to be looking at that very closely."

In a press release on Thursday, Jackson, who is also president of STAND and a research fellow with Family Research Council said, "It is clear the shooter is racist, but he also chose to attack a church."

Jackson believers ministers armed with weapons may be a deterrent against similar incidents in the future.

"It's sad, but I think we've got to arm ourselves," Jackson said. "Look, I'm a pastor. If someone comes in to hurt my church members, I have an absolute obligation to defend them, to protect them," he told Fox and Friends.

In his press release, Jackson explained that while he is not seeking to turn churches into armed camps, "Evil people and mentally ill people are looking for easy victims. Even though religious hatred may not be their primary motive, they can feel safe attacking a church because that is a place where you are not likely to meet resistance."