At least one Black man who considers Dylann Roof a friend insists that he saw no signs of racial hatred in him, in the days leading up to the Charleston Massacre.
"I don't feel no different today than I felt about him before he did this stuff, Christon Scriven, 21, told the BBC about Roof, who is being investigated for shooting to death nine people during bible study last week at the Emanuel AME in Charleston, South Carolina. "Who's to say that Dylann was in his right mind?"
Almost immediately following the heinous killings, a white acquaintance, Joey Meek contacted the FBI and told reporters that Roof, also 21, was looking "to start a civil war." He said in the weeks preceding, he and Roof drank vodka together while Roof complained that "Blacks were taking over the world" and that "someone needed to do something about it for the white race," CBS News reports.
Another classmate described him as a "pill popper" who "told racist jokes."
Scriven didn't experience that. "Everybody's making him out to be racist but here I am in front of you today as a Black man and telling you that I look at him no different today than what I looked him last week because he never said anything racist to me," he said.
"That church wasn't his primary target at all, that's why my heart goes out to those nine families because you guys weren't the targets," Scriven continued. "He wanted to shoot that school up, UCA, University of Charleston. It's three miles up the street from that church. He had no intentions of harming those people in that church."
Scriven said he's doesn't know what it was about the school, or if Roof even knew anyone there. "We were on our way to the river. It was on a Wednesday 'cause we dropped them off at the lake and he was like, he's gonna shoot the school up. ... And he just stopped talking about it. He never said anything else about it. He was like, 'They all got seven days to live.' ... And on Wednesday [June 17], he did it."
It didn't occur to him to worry, Scriven mentioned. "How many friends do you have that's killed nine people this week? So how do you take it serious?"
Caleb Brown, a grade and high school friend of Roof's told CBS that he too didn't know him to be racist, but seems to have a new perspective. "That was not inside of him the entire time I knew that kid, or his mom, they were not like that," Brown said. "And I still believe that his mom is one of the greatest people... one of the nicest ladies I've ever met. If something in him turned, then it was recent. It wasn't his whole life; he wasn't sitting, bubbling with hatred towards Black people -- no, that just happened and I don't know why."
A racist manifesto, as yet not authenticated to be Roof's, has surfaced via a website registered in his name, along with photos (also not authenticated) of him posing with the Confederate flag. He was arrested Thursday, after a manhunt, and is being held on $1 million bond.
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(Photo: BBC News)