There was a storm brewing in this kid’s life from the day he was born in 1994. His parents must have had ESP, they chose Storm as his middle name. In June of 2015, he looked in the rearview mirror of his black Hyundai Elantra and saw the telltale red and blues atop a marked police vehicle kick on, beckoning him to pull his car to the curb. He had his first run-in with police just four months earlier.
He was high, and being a general nuisance at the Columbiana Center Mall in Columbia, South Carolina. Dressed in his trademark all-black (head to toe) with racist patches, he aroused the suspicion of mall security who then called the local cops. The local police contacted him and during a pat-down search discovered his stash of Suboxone. The police officers didn’t know what he was carrying (Suboxone is a recreationally abused illegal narcotic) but they knew it was likely a controlled substance. They arrested him on a misdemeanor rap for drug possession. He was also banned by security from the Columbiana Center Mall for a year.
Not a month later, an off-duty officer put a name to memory and recognized the man in black as ‘Dylann’, the kid in black from the previous mall arrest. The officer saw Dylan seated in a car in downtown Columbia. Dylan seemed spaced out and the officer didn’t want him driving in this condition. Upon contacting Dylan Storm, the officers tossed his car and recovered a grip for an AR-15 rifle, six unloaded 40-round AR magazines, but no drugs or guns. Dylann Storm Roof was released at the scene.
Just under a month later, Dylann Storm Roof was caught ‘trespassing’ at Columbiana Center Mall again. This time his hijinks earned him an additional three years of being banned (even though it was obvious that the one-year ban he had violated was less than 45 days old.)
Dylann Roof was a native North Carolinian from a broken home. He spent most of his early life sporting his trademark “Moe Howard” haircut, defying parental and school authority and smoking dope. He would have been categorized as an Obsessive Compulsive had he been clinically diagnosed.
Dylann spent a lot of time around school. Well, to be honest, he spent time in a lot of schools, attending seven schools in nine years before dropping out altogether in 2010, but he was never “in” school very often. Now – after dropping out – and with even more free time, Roof turned his Suboxone addiction and predilection for smoking dope and ‘doing nothing’ into a counterculture art form.
You may recall the oft-quoted and ancient (at least as old as Chaucer in the twelfth century) “idle hands are the devil’s workshop” comment. Dylann Storm Roof epitomized those words, he was on the path to destruction and no one either saw it or cared to do much about it. Dylan bounced from ‘Cool Friend’s house’ to ‘Cool Mom’s house’ all over Columbia. He held no job, purveyed no life-skills, just flopped, drank, and did drugs. He was 19 and already caught in the gravitational pull of a full-on downward spiral.
Friends and relatives said that he withdrew from society and spent his waking hours indoors, locked in a room with his Suboxone and ample reserves of alcohol and marijuana. Funny how Dylann never held a job but always had the money for booze and drugs. No one ever asked where that money was coming from. Almost always it seemed to come from family members who supported Dylann’s lifestyle.
Tales from the Darkside.
You know my warnings about anyone writing a manifesto. Dylann’s manifesto was posted to social media for anyone to read. He made no attempt to hide it.
“I have no choice. I am not in the position to, alone, go into the ghetto and fight. I chose Charleston because it is 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.”
Dylann was a busy boy, while seemingly stoned and lazy, he had time to play video games, draft a web profile, and work on a total of three manifestos-in-progress. Much of his writing was dedicated to racist hate-speech, talks of murder, and musings of ‘Soft targeting’.
Soft targets rely on LAO: businesses, events, personnel, or vehicles that have a Location and Association that can be exploited during or after your act of violence given the Opportunity. You can attack Soft targets to further your political, religious or cultural agenda (such as is occurring in the United States now) or to advance your tactical, operational, or strategic agenda.
During Roof’s many manifesto drafts and notes, he listed victims he intended to kill and churches and schools he intended to attack. None of this information was private. He hid nothing. A number of Dylann’s posts showed him armed with a handgun (as depicted below). Many had a confederate flag as a backdrop. Each had smatterings of neo-Nazi messages in code or outright. There were tours of famous slavery-related historical sites, as depicted above. In each Dylann Storm Roof was wearing his characteristic all-black uniform adorned with patches related to hate organizations. In numerous selfies or when Dylan asked someone at the location to take his photo, Dylan Roof proudly posed in front of plantations, cemeteries, or monuments. Remarkably – none of the personnel at these locations remember Dylan Storm Roof, the man in black attending or photographing his future posts while on-site at their tour or landmark locations.
Dylann liked to write about Trayvon Martin. He read, then twisted and interpreted white supremacist postings related to Trayvon’s death and became ‘woke’ (according to Roof) about how predatory blacks were killing the whites. This nonsense helped create a corrupt file folder within Dylan. A file full of atrocities committed against whites, if occurring only as salacious hate rhetoric festering in his own confused mind. In Dylan’s twisted, drug-addled brain, blacks were taking over the world. Roof wanted to return to a time of racial segregation. He fantasized about killing people (mostly people of color) and collected ‘injustices’ from varied sources (mainstream media and racist hate sites). He plotted attacks including one he designed for the College of Charleston. He told his friends openly that he planned on a mass killing in the near future. Instead of notifying the police, the friends assumed that drunk, high Dylann was “too lazy” to follow up on any of his threats.
That’s where they were wrong.
Even though it was hugely unlikely that Roof’s messages of hate and his upcoming spate of horrific violence were going to start a race-war, Dylann imagined that he alone could prove to be the catalyst. His psychopathy was reinforced by a number of factors, mostly created by the hostile social media environment he chose to embrace. The primary reinforcement was that none of Dylan’s friends, family or social community told him “No”. None of them proffered or sought help for Dylan Roof. No-one turned him in for his own good.
Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.
‘Mother Emanuel’ (as the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church or AME was called) is located prominently at 110 Calhoun Street in downtown Charleston, South Carolina. Mother Emanuel is the oldest AME church in the south. Founded in 1817, Mother Emanuel was and is a community landmark. On 17 June 2015, Dylan Storm Roof showed up at Mother Emanuel and joined the Bible study class already in progress. Dylan attended the class, interacting with parishioners for almost an hour.
During that tense time, the class attendees began to feel something was amiss, and Dylan Roof began to have second thoughts. His heart was melting as he witnessed how nice the church members were to him, how friendly and accepting they were of him. He told the Feds that he almost decided not to kill them. Roof had an agenda, though. Can’t start a race war without making a bold statement. Dylann Roof then pulled out the gun he purchased himself, the Glock 41 .45 caliber semi-automatic. The same gun that weeks before had been taken away from him by his friends when he told them about his plans for a mass killing.
The same gun Dylann bought with birthday money, filling out the appropriate forms in the clear light of day at a reputable establishment, even though he was legally barred from owning or possessing a weapon because of his drug use and possession charges. It seems a lapse in the federal firearm system allowed Dylan to walk out with his gun that same day.
Dylan began firing. Dispassionately and methodically walked between the folding tables and chairs shooting and reloading until he had killed nine of the parishioners. Five people survived to tell the story.
Those killed that day were Depayne Middleton-Doctor a 49-year-old pastor and school administrator, Cynthia Marie Graham Hurd, a 54-year-old library manager, Susie Jackson, an 87-year-old church choir member, Ethel Lance, a 70-year-old church elder, Clementa Pinckney, the Mother Emanuel pastor, Tywanza Sanders, a 26-year-old college graduate, Daniel Simmons, a 74-year-old pastor, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, a 45-year-old track coach and speech therapist and Myra Thompson, a 59-year-old Bible study teacher.
May they forever live in our hearts and our memories.
Preventing a probable act of violence.
This was a totally preventable act of violence. Just two weeks before the massacre, one of Dylan’s closest friends hid Dylan’s Glock .45 saying, “Dylan was talking crazy”. Ironically this friend later told Federal investigators that Dylan was looking for a high body count and had settled on a church rather than a school because schools had ‘too much security’.
Those warnings, to a trained human behavior professional, are no different than hearing someone screaming ‘fire’ in a crowded movie theater or hearing a passenger mentioning a ‘bomb’ on a plane. Those are what we refer to in the human behavior business as “Immediate Action Indicators”. These blatant verbal cues supported by artifacts and evidence (Dylan’s possession of a gun, the maps, and written details he created followed by the plans he posted during Social Leakage on social media where Root wrote of his impending plans) must be taken seriously.
Certainly, it should be up to trained, experienced and vetted personnel should determine whether someone making these threatening statements is to be taken seriously. Another irony occurred when investigators located Dylan’s black friends who stated that they didn’t hear or witness any of Dylan’s racial prejudice, yet each of them remembers hearing Dylann state on a number of occasions that Roof was planning to commit a mass killing at the local college in the near future.
Dylan associated with people of color because he craved friendship. He gathered injustices to fit the plan in his mind to create a race war, but he certainly didn’t plan on confronting any of his black friends or associates directly. His plan was to conduct an ambush attack on a Soft target. One where the victims were caught unaware. A Soft target where it was unlikely his victims would fight back.
The traffic stop.
Remember, Dylan wasn’t going risk losing a fight and a friend by lipping off to one of his black friends. He was fine with gunning down 9 members of a close-knit black congregation while they were seated and engaged in Bible study, but he certainly didn’t want to shoot it out with the cops. Dylan Roof was a coward when it came to a confrontation. Dylan wanted both his ‘say’ AND his ‘way’. Dylan finally had a story to tell.
When the coppers lit him up (activated their red and blue lights and their audible siren), Dylan Storm Roof immediately pulled over and into a lot off the roadway. He didn’t try to run or resist. It didn’t fit his manifesto. When the Shelby, North Carolina police (some 245 miles from his horrendous crime) asked Dylan for his name and ID, he provided both. Police were so excited that they had located the suspect black Hyundai Elantra that matched the “be on the lookout” transmitted via police radios all over the south, the BOL that identified Dylan Storm Roof as the Mother Emanuel shooter, that they at first didn’t believe Dylan.
First, know that the police with all their technology and being assisted by the FBI only knew of Dylan Roof’s location based on a tip from a passerby who saw Dylan behind the wheel of the vehicle headed south through North Carolina. The coppers on the scene asked him his name over and over as if they hadn’t heard him. We know that symptom as being OBE or overwhelmed by events. The notoriety of the ensuing stop also caused a moment of inattention blindness. When officers on the scene asked Dylan if he had a gun, he calmly replied, “Yes” and said the Glock, ammo, and magazines were lying on the vehicle’s rear seat – in plain view of the officers affecting the traffic stop.
Dylan n’s friends and family had numerous opportunities to get him help or notify authorities that Dylan was unstable and perhaps homicidal. Dylann should have never been able to purchase the gun, but more importantly, friends and family members knew that Dylan was (1) illegally in possession of a firearm and, (2) made a number of seemingly credible threats that he was going to use the gun to commit a mass killing.
Remember, the threats were repeated. Dylan also engaged an obvious LAO plan for a Soft target; Location, Mother Emanuel. Association, potential unarmed black victims in a controlled setting so as to start a race war, and; Opportunity, an ‘open to the public’ Bible study session in the evening, in the basement of Mother Emanuel Church. Based on Dylan’s rambling, repeated messages of violence, his family, friends, and associates should have notified authorities or gotten Dylann help.
The FBI speculated that Dylann planned the Mother Emanuel killings for 6 months. That’s 6 months of social leakage, Facebook posts, countless video games, and bong-hits where Dylan was observed spewing his race hate filth and telling anyone who would listen that he was weeks away from a killing spree.
Never forget that you have the power to prevent an act of violence. By learning and rehearsing the pre-event indications of violence, you can “see” threats begin to form even when the perpetrators are hiding in plain sight right in front of you. Drinking a beer, smoking a joint, and playing a first-person shooter game while playing hooky from school.
Don’t ever think it can’t happen to you. Dylan Roof was looking for a time and place to burn-in. Racism merely lit the fuse and allowed him the opportunity to act out. I’m not much on forgiveness. In the words of 1984’s Rock Master Scott and the Dynamic Three; “The roof, the roof, the roof is on fire! We don’t need no water – let the motherfucker burn”.
So much for life sentences.
Training changes behavior.