Jury Shown Video Of Dylann Roof's Confession: 'We All Know I'm Guilty'

Dec 10, 2016
Originally published on December 10, 2016 5:18 pm

Jurors in Dylann Roof's federal trial got to hear from the Charleston church shooting suspect firsthand. Prosecutors played his FBI interrogation tape that was recorded in 2015. Editor's note: this conversation includes graphic language about the shooting.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Dylann Roof is on trial for shooting nine black worshippers to death during a church bible study in Charleston, S.C. Yesterday, jurors heard Roof's videotaped confession. In that recording, he said he planned the attack and committed the murders. He also talked in detail about his white supremacist views, as South Carolina Public Radio's Alexandra Olgin reports.

ALEXANDRA OLGIN, BYLINE: Less than 24 hours after Dylann Roof gunned down nine people studying scripture inside the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, he confessed to the crime. Sitting inside a police station in Shelby, N.C., where he was arrested during a traffic stop, he told agents a few minutes after the interview started...

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO)

DYLANN ROOF: Well, I did - I killed them. Well, I guess. I mean, I don't really know.

OLGIN: In a white shirt and black pants, Roof told agents exactly where he bought the Glock .45 he used in the shooting rampage and his method for loading and using ammunition. He fired 77 rounds that night, as many as 11 into the oldest member of the Bible study, 87-year-old Susie Jackson. Roof says in the video he almost didn't go through with his plan.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO)

ROOF: You know, and then I was sitting there and I was like, you know, just thinking about whether I should do it or not, you know, and that's why I was sitting there for 15 minutes just, like, you know, like - because I know I could've just walked out, you know, 'cause they didn't say anything to me about what - you know, the thing on my belt. So I could've walked out, you know. And that's when I was just thinking, you know, but then I just, you know, I could just - I don't know - just like not (inaudible) want to say want to say spur of the moment, but (inaudible) I just finally decided I had to do it.

OLGIN: Roof didn't know what day or month it was. He told agents he couldn't remember exactly what he did in the days leading up to the shooting. Sitting behind him in the federal courtroom, survivors and relatives of victims watched the man that killed their loved ones laugh about the crime.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ROOF: (Laughter) I am guilty. We all know I'm guilty.

OLGIN: He found the historic Mother Emanuel Church online where he also read articles that he says racially awakened him. He told agents he chose Charleston and the church because there would be black people and no white people there. He told FBI agents he wanted to make race relations worse.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ROOF: It causes friction and then, you know, it could lead to a race war. So like I said...

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: So you're hoping - are you hoping that - basically you're hoping that white people will rise up and become aware through what you did.

ROOF: Yes. And that doesn't mean that I want white people to rise up to kill all...

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: No but you want them to be aware.

ROOF: I just want them to do something, you know, for themselves.

OLGIN: Roof wrote in his journal that was read aloud in court, no one else has any responsibility for what I have done. I planned it and went about it completely alone. For NPR News, I'm Alexandra Olgin in Charleston, S.C. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.