How Did The Charleston Shooter Get A Gun? Dylann Roof Had A Pending Felony Charge
A week before he allegedly killed nine people at the the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, 21-year-old Dylann Roof allegedly bragged last week about his plans to "kill a bunch of people," according to one of Roof's friends who spoke to the New York Daily News. But just how did the Charleston shooter get a gun? Roof’s uncle, Carson Cowles, told Gawker that Roof got a gun for his 21st birthday in April.
Despite the fact that Roof has an arrest record, Cowles said his nephew's father bought Roof the .45-caliber gun. The Associated Press reported that state court records show a pending felony drug case and a past misdemeanor trespassing charge against Roof. Under federal law, there is nothing that bars Roof from owning a gun even though he has a pending felony. If he were convicted, it would have been illegal for him to own a weapon. There are also no permits required for someone to purchase and own a gun in South Carolina. In a speech responding to the tragedy, President Barack Obama called for gun control reform across the country:
We don’t have all the facts but we do know that once again innocent people were killed in part because someone who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a gun. Now is the time for mourning and for healing but let’s be clear: At some point we as a country have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence doesn’t happen in other advanced countries. It doesn’t happen in other places with this kind of frequency. And at some point it’s going to be important for … us to be able to shift how we think about the issue of gun violence collectively.
Roof's pending felony resulted after a strange incident in a shopping mall. Roof was allegedly walking around Columbia's Columbiana Centre shopping mall asking questions that several mall employees called "bizarre," such as "What time do you close?" and "How many associates are working?" When approached by a police officer who responded to mall employees' complaints, Roof said he was asking the questions because his parents wanted him to get a job, according to the Daily News. The cop arrested him for the strips of Suboxone, a narcotic, inside his jacket pocket, according to the police report cited by the Daily News.
Cowles told the Daily News that Roof was very excited about the gift from his father. The day after his birthday, Cowles said he called Roof:
He said, ‘I got to go, I’m outside shooting target practice right now.'
Cowles spoke to the Daily News before Roof was apprehended in Shelby, North Carolina, and told them he recognized his nephew when police released surveillance photos that were taken outside of the Emanuel AME Church:
He’s a monster, and they need to catch him, and he needs to pay for what he’s done.
Roof's presence at the church wasn't strange to anyone there because the church is used to hosting tourists, who often visit because of its history, according to the Daily News. According to survivors, when Roof stood up, he allegedly told them why he came there — "to shoot black people" — and then said "You rape our women, and you're taking over our country. And you have to go," according to CNN. The attack was the deadliest on a U.S. house of worship since 1991, according to the Washington Post.
Federal officials are calling the attack a hate crime. Rep. James Clyburn, a Democrat from South Carolina and one of Congress' prominent black politicians, condemned this kind of hate in his home state, according to MSNBC:
I am distraught that this kind of hate still exists in our country. We must take these horrific crimes that are happening across our states and teach our neighbors that hate is not the answer.
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