Accused Church Gunman Staked Out Crime Scene Many Times


(CN) – An FBI agent testifying in the federal death penalty trial of accused Charleston church gunman Dylann Roof on Tuesday said the young man visited the city several times in the months leading up to the murders.

Special Agent Joseph Hamski said the details of Roof’s travels were distilled from his Garmin GPS, and that they show he methodically staked out the Emanuel AME Church where nine people were shot to death in June 2015.

According to the agent, Roof made his first trip to Charleston on Dec. 22, 2014, when he drove by the church and spent several minutes in a nearby parking before setting off for the Boone Hall Plantation, a popular tourist site in Mount Pleasant, a suburb of the city.

Roof returned to Charleston two months later, on Feb. 24, 2015,  and parked a block away from the church.

Three days later, Roof again was in Charleston, stopping near the church between visits to two other area tourist sites: the Magnolia Plantation in West Ashley, another suburb of the city, and Fort Moultrie, on Sullivan’s Island, from which he could easily see Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor, target of the first shots of the American Civil War.

Roof was back in Charleston on April 25, 2015, nine days after authorities say he bought the 45-caliber Glock used in the murders.

During the visit, Roof again stopped near the targeted church, Hamski said.

The next day Roof bought the laser sight at Palmetto State Armory in Columbia, the agent said.

Roof returned to Charleston two more times before making his final trip on the evening of June 17, 2015.

But Hamski said Charleston wasn’t Roof’s only destination during these months. He also visited a Confederate Museum in Greenville, South Carolina, and several historical markers, most of them related to the Civil War.

In one of the selfies Roof took in his travels and later found among his belongings, his is seen holding his hand as if it were a gun pointed at a black memorial.

Hamski said Roof traveled alone to each of the sites he visited and took all of his own photos and videos because he wanted to keep his beliefs unknown to others.

Photos showed Roof visiting Columbia’s Elmwood Cemetery which was the final resting place for Confederate soldiers and he took several pictures of himself at the plantations he visited and one at Sullivan’s Island featuring the white supremacist logo “1488” drawn in the sand.

Several images showed Roof doing the “Heil Hitler” pose in front of historical sites.

Jurors saw a video of Roof in his mother’s backyard throwing a phone book in the air and shooting it, and then continuing to shoot it after it landed.

Hamski said following the shooting at the Emanuel AME Church on Calhoun Street in Charleston,  Roof drove to Charlotte, North Carolina, and then headed north to the town of Shelby, where he was arrested the next day by local officers responding to a tip.

The prosecution is expected to wrap up its case on Wednesday, the day it will also present testimony from the Charleston medical examiner and Polly Sheppard, a survivor of the shooting who says Roof told her she was being spared because he wanted someone left alive to tell his story.

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