Floodwaters rise on Charleston’s streets as Hurricane Dorian skirts U.S. coast

Nathan Piper, 11, is swamped by increasingly rough waves while body surfing as Hurricane Dorian approaches, in Carolina Beach, North Carolina, U.S., September 5, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake

By Nick Carey and Amanda Becker

CHARLESTON, S.C. (Reuters) – Deserted, rain-lashed streets in Charleston, South Carolina, vanished beneath water on Thursday as Hurricane Dorian churned a few dozen miles offshore after reducing parts of the Bahamas to rubble.

Water pooled a few inches deep near the centuries-old waterfront. In certain low-lying blocks, it rose to a foot or more, as high tide approached and forecasters warned of storm surges of up to 8 feet (2 meters).

John Rivers, 74, and his three children were among the few to be seen in the streets on Thursday. They cleared drains of branches, leaves and debris, using a shovel, a rake and their bare hands.

“We’re giving the water somewhere to go,” Rivers said, sheltering temporarily from the driving rain and gusts of wind under a covered walkway. His daughter Caroline, 12, pulled off her rubber boots one at a time, emptying a stream of water from each. “I see this as a good life lesson for my kids,” Rivers said.

Officials said Thursday afternoon that more than 7 inches (18 cm) of rain had fallen in parts of Charleston.

Dorian was about 50 miles (80 kilometers) off Charleston on Thursday, wavering in strength between a Category 2 and 3 on the five-step Saffir-Simpson wind scale. It was forecast to possibly make landfall in North Carolina late Thursday or early Friday.

Life-threatening storm surges and dangerous winds were possible in much of the coast of South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia, the National Weather Service said.

Dorian whipped up at least three tornados in the region, officials said. One in North Carolina damaged scores of trailers in a campground in Emerald Isle, but no one was injured, North Carolina’s News & Observer reported.

Governors in the region declared states of emergency, closed schools, opened shelters, readied national guard troops and implored residents to take warnings seriously, as fresh images of the devastation wrought by the storm in the Bahamas earlier this week continued to circulate in the media.

At least 70,000 Bahamians needed immediate humanitarian relief after Dorian became the most damaging storm ever to hit the island nation.

In the Carolinas alone, more than 900,000 people had been ordered to evacuate their homes. It was unclear how many did so.

In Kill Devil Hills, in North Carolina’s Outer Banks, Mark Jennings decided to ignore the order, lining his garage door with sandbags and boarding up his home with plywood.

The retired firefighter planned to stay put with his wife and two dogs: “We are ready to go. If something happens, we can still get out of here.”

FOUR DEATHS IN THE U.S.

At least four storm-related deaths have already been reported. Three people died in Orange County, Florida, during storm preparations or evacuation, according to the Orange County mayor’s office. In North Carolina, an 85-year-old man fell off a ladder while barricading his home for Dorian, the governor said.

More than 210,000 homes and businesses were without power in South Carolina and Georgia early on Thursday, according to local electric companies.

On Charleston’s historic South Battery Street, which runs down to the harbor, Brys Stephens tried to keep the water away from his stately home, built in the veranda-wrapped Southern style that lures crowds of tourists to the city.

He and his family pumped water out of the yard and tried to reattach metal flood gates into the perimeter wall.

“The gates worked pretty well so far and we’ve managed to keep water away from the house,” Stephens said. “But we’ve got another storm surge coming later on, so we’ll see then if it holds.”

(Reporting by Nick Carey in Charleston, South Carolina, and Amanda Becker in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina; Additional reporting by Jonathan Allen, Peter Szekely, Matt Lavietes and Scott DiSavino in New York; Writing by Jonathan Allen; Editing by Scott Malone and Bernadette Baum)

Charleston mass shooting victims can sue U.S. over gun purchase: court

FILE PHOTO: Dylann Roof sits in the court room at the Charleston County Judicial Center to enter his guilty plea on murder charges in state court for the 2015 shooting massacre at a historic black church, in Charleston, South Carolina, U.S., April 10, 2017. REUTERS/Grace Beahm/Pool/File Photo

By Jonathan Stempel

(Reuters) – Survivors of a 2015 mass shooting at a South Carolina church can sue the U.S. government over its alleged negligence in allowing Dylann Roof to buy the gun he used to kill nine African-Americans, a federal appeals court said on Friday.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the government was not immune from liability under either the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) or the Brady Act to prevent handgun violence.

Friday’s decision by a three-judge panel revived 16 lawsuits that challenged lapses in how the government vetted prospective gun purchasers, including the FBI’s management of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).

The U.S. Department of Justice did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

William Wilkins, a former chief judge of the 4th Circuit representing the victims, said Congress had charged the FBI with adopting procedures “to stop people like Roof who could obtain assassins’ weapons” from doing so.

“The government has to do what the law requires,” Wilkins said in an interview. “It failed to do that in this case.”

Roof, a white supremacist, had been admitted to a Bible study session at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston on June 17, 2015, where he then used his .45-caliber Glock semiautomatic pistol in the shooting.

Victims said a proper background check would have shown that Roof had recently admitted to drug possession, which would have disqualified him from buying the gun from a federally licensed dealer two months earlier.

Chief Judge Roger Gregory wrote for the Richmond, Virginia-based appeals court that no one disputed that a proper check would have stopped Roof.

But he said U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel in Charleston was wrong to dismiss the lawsuits on immunity grounds in June 2018, even as Gergel faulted the government’s “abysmally poor policy choices” in managing the background check system.

Gregory said the case turned on the NICS examiner’s alleged negligence in disregarding mandatory procedures. “The government can claim no immunity in these circumstances,” he wrote.

Circuit Judge G. Steven Agee partially dissented, saying the government was not immune from Brady Act claims, but that Gergel properly dismissed the FTCA case.

Roof, now 25, was sentenced to death in January 2017 after being convicted on 33 federal counts related to the shooting, including hate crimes. He pleaded guilty three months later to state murder charges, and was sentenced to nine consecutive life terms without parole.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Leslie Adler and Alistair Bell)

Flooding on the horizon for South Carolina, a week after Florence

A closeup of flooded homes and roads near the River Landing Country Club, in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, is seen in this satellite image over the area in Wallace, North Carolina, U.S., September 20, 2018. Satellite image ©2018 DigitalGlobe, a Maxar company/Handout via REUTERS

By Anna Mehler Paperny

KINSTON, N.C. (Reuters) – Residents in Georgetown County, South Carolina, where five rivers flow into the ocean, will prepare on Friday for a deluge of water in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, which has killed more than 40 people.

Lying on Atlantic Ocean between Myrtle Beach and Charleston, the county of about 60,000 people is one of several areas across the Carolinas waiting anxiously for rivers to crest, a week after Florence dumped some three feet of rain in the region.

Flooding could begin early next week, officials said during a community meeting on Thursday. The city of Georgetown on Friday will hand out 15,000 sandbags as the county develops plans to evacuate residents.

Local residents walk along the edge of a collapsed road that ran atop Patricia Lake's dam after it collapsed in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, in Boiling Spring Lakes, North Carolina, U.S., September 19, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake

Local residents walk along the edge of a collapsed road that ran atop Patricia Lake’s dam after it collapsed in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, in Boiling Spring Lakes, North Carolina, U.S., September 19, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake

“Please heed the warnings,” Sheriff Lane Cribb said. “Protecting lives and property will be our goal … You better pray. I think we all need to pray that it don’t happen.”

More than three dozen flood gauges in North and South Carolina showed flooding. Some rivers had still not crested by Friday morning, according to the National Weather Service.

Thirty-one deaths have been attributed to the storm in North Carolina, eight in South Carolina and one in Virginia.

Michael Ziolkowski, a Field Operations Supervisor for the National Disaster Response K-9 Unit and his partner, Morty, are transported to support relief efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence in Spring Lake, North Carolina, September 16, 2018. Spc. Austin T. Boucher/U.S. Army/Handout via REUTERS

Michael Ziolkowski, a Field Operations Supervisor for the National Disaster Response K-9 Unit and his partner, Morty, are transported to support relief efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence in Spring Lake, North Carolina, September 16, 2018. Spc. Austin T. Boucher/U.S. Army/Handout via REUTERS

Some 4,700 people across North Carolina have been rescued by boat or helicopter since the storm made landfall, twice as many as in Hurricane Matthew two years ago, according to state officials. About 10,000 remain in shelters.

The coastal city of Wilmington, North Carolina, remained cut off by floodwaters on Thursday. More than 200 roads across the state were closed or blocked as residents. Over 60,000 customers were without power in North Carolina early on Friday, according to Poweroutage.us.

As floodwaters continue to rise, concerns are growing about the environmental and health dangers lurking in the water.

The flooding has caused 21 hog “lagoons,” which store manure from pig farms, to overflow in North Carolina, creating a risk that standing water will be contaminated, according to the state’s Department of Environmental Quality. North Carolina is one of the leading hog-producing states in the country.

Several sewer systems in the region also have released untreated or partly treated sewage and storm water into waterways over the last week, local media reported.

(Reporting by Anna Mehler Paperny in Kinston, North Carolina; Additional reporting by Jeff Mason in Conway, South Carolina, Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee, Scott DiSavino in New York and Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles; writing by Dan Whitcomb; editing by Larry King)

S.C. church shooter’s sister charged for weapons at school

Morgan Roof, sister of avowed white supremacist Dylann Roof, is shown after being arrested for carrying weapons at a high school, in this police photo released in South Carolina, U.S., on March 15, 2018. Courtesy Richland County Government/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY.

By Harriet McLeod

CHARLESTON, S.C. (Reuters) – The teenage sister of avowed white supremacist Dylann Roof, who was sentenced to die for the 2015 massacre at a historic South Carolina black church, was arrested for carrying weapons and drugs at her high school, police said on Thursday.

Morgan Roof, 18, had a knife, pepper spray and marijuana when she was searched at A.C. Flora High School in Columbia, South Carolina, on Wednesday, said Richland County Sheriff’s Department Lieutenant Curtis Wilson.

Roof was charged with simple possession of marijuana and two counts of carrying weapons on school grounds.

Wilson said in a statement that school administrators had acted appropriately by calling the school resource officer to arrest Roof for violating school policy.

“No students were harmed as a result of this incident,” Wilson said.

The arrest came on the morning of a walkout by tens of thousands of students nationwide to demand stronger gun laws following last month’s Florida school shooting, in which 14 students and three faculty were killed.

Morgan Roof also made a racially charged Snapchat post about the walkout, according to the Post and Courier newspaper.

“I hope it’s a trap and y’all get shot we know it’s fixing to be nothing but black people walkin’ out anyway,” the post said, according to the newspaper.

Wilson said the post “caused alarm to the student body,” but he could not immediately confirm its contents.

After being made aware of the social media post, school administrators searched Roof and found the drugs and weapons, Wilson said.

Two other students, both 16, were arrested on Tuesday at A.C. Flora High School and charged with having weapons on school grounds after a handgun and loaded magazine were found, according to Wilson. A third student, also 16, was arrested on Thursday in connection with those discoveries, he said.

No students were in any danger, Wilson said in a statement.

Morgan Roof was released from jail on Thursday on an undisclosed bond, Richland County spokesman Andrew Haworth said.

In response to the arrests, South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster called for more security at schools.

“For months, I have called on the General Assembly to join me in placing a trained, certified police officer in every school,” he said in a statement.

Dylann Roof sat for 40 minutes with parishioners at the landmark Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston for a Bible study meeting before opening fire on June 17, 2015. He killed nine African-Americans in a hate-fueled attack he had been planning for months.

He was sentenced to death after his conviction on 33 federal counts, including hate crimes and obstruction of religion. He was also sentenced under a separate state murder charge to nine consecutive life terms without parole and three consecutive 30-year prison terms for attempted murder.

(Reporting by Harriet McLeod; Additional reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta and Gina Cherelus in New York; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Tom Brown)

Tennessee church shooter may have sought revenge for Charleston murders: report

The scene where people were injured when a gunman opened fire at the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ, in Nashville, Tennessee, U.S. September 24, 2017. REUTERS/Jamie Gilliam

By Alex Dobuzinskis

(Reuters) – A man accused of killing a woman in a shooting rampage at a Tennessee church this week might have acted to avenge the murders of nine black people in a South Carolina church two years ago, the Washington Post reported on Friday.

A note in the car of Emanuel Kidega Samson, 25, indicated a possible plot spurred by the fatal 2015 shootings at Emanuel AME church, a historic African-American house of worship in Charleston, the newspaper said, citing unnamed people familiar with the investigation.

Samson, who police say was wearing a mask, is accused of killing a woman in the parking lot of Burnette Chapel Church of Christ in Nashville on Sunday. He shot and wounded six worshipers in the building, before shooting himself in a scuffle with an usher, police have said.

Reuters could not immediately confirm whether investigators had found the note in Samson’s vehicle.

Representatives for the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation declined to comment. A Nashville police spokesman could not be reached for comment.

Dylann Roof, a 23-year-old avowed white supremacist, was convicted last year of 33 federal criminal counts related to the Charleston shooting, including murders as a hate crime.

Roof pleaded guilty earlier this year to separate state murder charges in the deaths of the nine black churchgoers he killed. He was sentenced to death.

Samson, who is black, was taken to jail after being treated at a hospital, police said, and was charged with criminal homicide.

Photos of events at the Nashville church posted on its Facebook page show people who appear to be from a range of ethnicities, including white people.

Federal authorities have opened a hate-crimes investigation into the Nashville shooting.

Samson lawfully bought a .22 caliber semi-automatic pistol, which was found in his sport utility vehicle after the shooting, Nashville officials said in a statement on Wednesday.

The other three firearms, including a .40 caliber semi-automatic pistol believed to have used to fire the shots at the church, were legally bought by a relative and given to Samson for safe-keeping, the statement said. An AR-15 rifle was found in the vehicle.

Samson attended the church in the past but not recently, church members told investigators, according to Nashville police.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Editing by Richard Chang)

Gunman shot at Charleston, S.C., restaurant; hostage rescued

Gunman shot at Charleston, S.C., restaurant; hostage rescued

By Harriet McLeod

CHARLESTON, S.C. (Reuters) – A disgruntled employee who fatally shot one person and held another hostage on Thursday at a restaurant in downtown Charleston, South Carolina, was shot by police, the city’s mayor said.

Witnesses said the gunman brandished a pistol and said “There’s a new boss in town” as he entered Virginia’s On King in the heart of the city’s commercial district, while about 15 to 20 people were having lunch. Many of them fled.

The gunman was transported to a local hospital in critical condition and the hostage was rescued, said Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg.

“A disgruntled employee came back to his place of employment… with a gun and killed an individual in the restaurant, held another hostage for some time,” Tecklenburg told reporters at the scene.

“This was not a terrorist act. This was not a hate crime. This was a tragic case of a disgruntled individual, I think with a history of some mental health challenges, who took his anger into his own hands,” he said.

Executive Chef Anthony Shane Whiddon, 37, of Goose Creek, South Carolina, was shot and killed during the incident.

Local television station WCSC-TV quoted a representative of the group that owns the restaurant as saying that the gunman was a former dishwasher.

Police helicopters had buzzed overhead and police SWAT team members had closed several blocks of King Street, which is home to many restaurants, bars and boutiques and is popular with residents and tourists.

Virginia’s On King is an upscale restaurant serving traditional Southern comfort food.

The local Post and Courier newspaper quoted a couple, Tom and Patsy Plant, who said they were eating lunch with their daughter Laura when the gunman walked in from the kitchen, the newspaper reported.

The Plants, who said they fled with other customers through a back door, described him as a black man in his late 50s. Patsy Plant told the paper he looked like “an ordinary grandpa, but he had a crazy look.”

The restaurant is just a block and a half from the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, where on June 17, 2015, a white supremacist fatally shot nine members of a Bible study group in what officials called a racially motivated hate crime.

The church shooter, Dylann Roof, has been sentenced to death in federal court for the massacre. He pleaded guilty in April to separate state murder charges.

(Additional reporting and writing by Gina Cherelus in New York and Suzannah Gonzales in Chicago; Editing by Dan Grebler and Christian Schmollinger)

Charleston church shooter pleads guilty to state murder counts

By Harriet McLeod

CHARLESTON, S.C. (Reuters) – The white supremacist sentenced to death in federal court for the 2015 shooting massacre at a historic black church in South Carolina pleaded guilty to separate state murder charges on Monday.

Dylann Roof, 23, was charged in state court with murdering nine African-American parishioners as they closed their eyes in prayer at a Bible study session.

Roof agreed to plead guilty in state court under a deal with prosecutors after being convicted of 33 federal crimes, including hate crimes and obstruction of religion resulting in death. In January, a jury found he deserved the death penalty.

Pleading guilty to the state charges allows for Roof’s transfer to death row and spares survivors and relatives of the victims a second round of courtroom testimony detailing his rampage on June 17, 2015, at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston.

He will receive a sentence of life in prison on the state charges, which include attempted murder of three survivors of the shooting, solicitor Scarlett Wilson said last month. State prosecutors abandoned efforts to seek a second death penalty.

Roof was ordered into the custody of U.S. Marshals last week. He has been held at the Sheriff Al Cannon Detention Center in Charleston County awaiting his state trial.

Standing shackled in a striped prison jumpsuit beside his attorney, Roof on Monday told the court he understood he would serve life in prison without eligibility for parole. He waived his right to any appeal.

He is expected to be transferred to the federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana, that holds male death-row prisoners, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, a nonprofit group that monitors U.S. capital punishment.

Since 1988, when the federal death penalty was reinstated, 76 defendants in the United States have been sentenced to death and three prisoners have been executed, according to the center’s website.

Roof becomes the 62nd current federal death row inmate, and appeals in such cases can take a decade or more, the center’s executive director, Robert Dunham, said in a telephone interview.

(Editing by Letitia Stein and Matthew Lewis)

Judge closes hearing on South Carolina church gunman’s competency

South Carolina church massacre shooting suspect Dylann Roof is seen in U.S. District Court of South Carolina evidence photo which was originally taken from Roof's website. Courtesy U.S. District Court of South Carolina

By Harriet McLeod

CHARLESTON, S.C. (Reuters) – A judge on Monday barred the public and press from a hearing to determine if Dylann Roof is mentally fit to serve as his own lawyer in the penalty phase of his trial, when the jury will decide whether to give him the death penalty for the 2015 massacre at a South Carolina church.Roof, 22, an avowed white supremacist, shot dead nine people at the historically black Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston.

The same jury found Roof guilty last month of 33 counts of federal hate crimes resulting in death, obstruction of religion and firearms violations.

The jury will be seated again to determine whether to put Roof to death but first the judge must decide whether Roof can serve as his own attorney or whether he will be represented by court-appointed lawyers.

U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel, whose decision was expected on Monday, said he was keeping the proceedings closed in order to avoid sequestering the jury.

Gergel said he was concerned jurors would inadvertently hear potentially prejudicial information from the hearing if reporters were allowed to cover it, ruling that protecting Roof’s right to a fair trial outweighed the media’s right to view the hearing.

The judge rejected arguments from press attorney Jay Bender and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Richardson, who wanted an open hearing. Gergel also banned relatives of the victims from attending.

The judge previously found Roof competent to stand trial after a hearing held in November ahead of the guilt phase but on Monday was due to hear new testimony from forensic psychiatrist James Ballenger, who examined Roof for five hours over the weekend, Gergel said.

Roof’s standby lawyers filed a motion arguing that Roof was not competent to stand trial or represent himself after he revealed at a hearing last week that he would present no evidence or witnesses during the sentencing phase.

His announcement raised “in especially stark fashion the question of whether the defendant is actually unable to defend himself,” the lawyers said in a court filing.

A team led by prominent capital defense lawyer David Bruck represented Roof during the guilt phase of the trial.

Roof has opted to represent himself for the sentencing phase, due to begin on Tuesday, and has sought to keep jurors from hearing evidence about his competency and mental health.

(Reporting by Harriet McLeod; Editing by Daniel Trotta and Andrea Ricci)

White supremacist found guilty on all counts in Charleston church massacre

South Carolina church massacre shooting suspect Dylann Roof is seen in U.S. District Court of South Carolina evidence photo which was originally taken from Roof's website.

By Greg Lacour

CHARLESTON, S.C., Dec 15 (Reuters) – A federal jury on Thursday found avowed white supremacist Dylann Roof guilty on all counts for gunning down nine black parishioners at a historic church in Charleston, South Carolina, last year.

Twelve jurors deliberated for a little under two hours after six days of chilling testimony about the bloodshed during a Bible study at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church on June 17, 2015. The panel will return on Jan. 3 to decide whether Roof should be sentenced to death or life in prison.

Roof, 22, showed no emotion as the guilty verdicts were read on 33 charges of federal hate crimes resulting in death, obstruction of religion and firearms violations.

“Justice has been served,” South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley said in a statement immediately after the verdict in a case that intensified the debate about race relations in the United States.

In the aftermath of the massacre, Haley led a push that removed the Confederate battle flag from the state capitol
grounds in Columbia. The flag was carried by pro-slavery Confederate forces during the Civil War and is viewed by many as a racist emblem.

Roof’s trial was one of two racially charged proceedings that played out in recent weeks in courthouses across the street from each other in the heart of Charleston’s downtown.

A state murder trial against a former North Charleston police officer who shot and killed a black man fleeing a traffic stop last year ended on Dec. 5 in a mistrial after jurors deadlocked.

Roof’s guilt was not in dispute. But his defense lawyers, hoping to spare him from execution, asked jurors to consider what factors had driven Roof to commit the senseless act and suggested he might be delusional.

The defense did not call any witnesses after the trial judge blocked them from presenting evidence of Roof’s mental state during the guilt phase of the trial. Roof plans to represent himself during the penalty phase.

During closing arguments on Thursday, prosecutors reminded jurors that Roof had been eager to share his story, giving a two-hour videotaped confession to Federal Bureau of Investigation agents and telling one worshipper he was letting her live so she could recount what he had done.

“He must be held accountable for each and every action he took inside that church,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Nathan Williams said. “For every life he took.”

(Additional reporting by Letitia Stein in Tampa, Florida; Writing by Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Lisa Shumaker)

‘I had to do it,’ accused gunman Dylann Roof says of SC church attack

Emanuel African Methodist Church

By Harriet McLeod

CHARLESTON, S.C. (Reuters) – Jurors in the federal hate crimes trial of Dylann Roof watched a video on Friday of the avowed white supremacist confessing to killing nine parishioners at a historic black church in South Carolina and saying he felt he “had to do it.”

Roof told investigators after his arrest for the June 17, 2015, massacre at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston that he estimated he had killed five people as retribution for perceived racial grievances. He sounded surprised to learn nine parishioners died.

“I had to do it because somebody had to do it,” Roof said in the taped confession.

Asked if he had regrets, Roof said, “I’d say so, yes … I regret that I did it, a little bit.”
Roof’s lawyers have not disputed his guilt but hope to spare him from being executed on charges of hate crimes resulting in death, obstruction of religion and firearms violations.

Roof, 22, also faces a death sentence if found guilty of murder charges in state court.

Police lead suspected shooter Dylann Roof into the courthouse in Shelby, North Carolina,

Police lead suspected shooter Dylann Roof into the courthouse in Shelby, North Carolina, U.S., June 18, 2015. REUTERS/Jason Miczek/File Photo

The videotaped confession, presented on the third day of his federal trial in Charleston, gave jurors a chance to hear the defendant explain why he carried out the attack on a Bible study meeting.

He appeared both animated and at ease as he spoke to investigators, laughing at times as he answered their questions.

Roof spoke with investigators in Shelby, North Carolina, where he was arrested about 13 hours after security video showed him leaving the church.

Inside his car, police said they found a journal where Roof wrote of his dreams for a race war and notes he wrote to his parents.

“Dear Mom, I love you,” read one note presented to jurors. “I’m sorry for what I did. I know this will have repercussions.”

In the video, Roof said white people needed to take a stand against crimes by African Americans.

“I don’t like what black people do,” Roof said, adding he was in favor of reinstating segregation.

He chose the Charleston church for the shooting because he knew “at least a small amount of black people” would be gathered there. Two adults and a child at the Bible study survived.

“It’s like this,” Roof said. “I’m not in a position, by myself, to go into a black neighborhood and shoot drug dealers.”

Nobody ran when he opened fire, he said, and he recalled pausing between shots.

“I was thinking about what I should do,” he said.

(Reporting by Harriet McLeod; Writing by Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Bill Trott and Andrew Hay)