Suspected Racist Killer Allegedly Was a Pill Popper, High School Friend Says

By Victoria Kim 06/18/15

In recent months, Dylann Roof had been arrested on several charges, including possession of a controlled substance.

Dylann Roof
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The suspected killer in the deadly attack at an historic black church in Charleston, S.C., was taken into custody Thursday, the New York Times reports.

Police were led to 21-year-old Dylann Roof on a tip from childhood friend, Joey Meek, who alerted the FBI after he and his mother recognized Roof in surveillance camera image that was  widely circulated after the shooting, AP reports.

The mass shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church left nine dead—three men and six women—during a prayer meeting on Wednesday night. People who knew Roof said he drove around with a Confederate flag on his license plate and the flags of the former white-racist regimes of South Africa and Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). They claimed that they “never thought he’d do something like this.”

“He had black friends,” a high school friend, Antonio Metze, told AP. John Mullins, who also went to high school with Roof, told The Daily Beast that he remembers Roof “had that kind of Southern pride” and “strong conservative beliefs,” and that he made a “lot of racist jokes."

On the day of the attack, Roof had a clear message for his victims. A survivor told Sylvia Johnson, a cousin of slain church Reverend Clementa Pinckney, that Roof said, “I have to do it. You rape our women and you’re taking over the country. You have to go.”

In recent months, Roof had a few run-ins with the law for trespassing and possession of a controlled substance. In March, he was arrested after police found him in possession of Suboxone, a prescription narcotic that is used to treat opiate addiction.

Roof admitted that he didn’t have a prescription for the drug, and he was arrested and charged with felony drug possession. His lawyer in the ongoing case, Ken Mathews, told Mother Jones that he was “very shocked” to hear about the attack and that he seemed like “just a normal kid.”

According to Mullins, Roof was a pill popper, and remembers him as being “kind of wild.”

“He used drugs heavily a lot. It was obviously harder than marijuana,” he told The Daily Beast. “He was like a pill popper, from what I understood. Like Xanax, and stuff like that.”

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr