Feds Say Church Gunman Had List of Other Targets

CHARLESTON, S.C. (CN) – A former state law enforcement agent testified Tuesday that the man accused of killing nine parishioners during a Bible study class in a Charleston church had a list of other black churches with him when police arrested him.

Brittany Burke, a former investigator with the South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division, said Dylann Roof later told FBI agents that he was too worn out from the June 17, 2005, shootings at the Emanuel AME Church to carry out other shootings.

But federal prosecutors spent Monday carefully going over what was found in Roof’s car when he was arrested, proof, the government says, that he could have hoped to carry out other attacks.

Burke testified that Roof had a handwritten list of black churches and their addresses in a backpack in his car, along with phone numbers for the Statehouse complex in Columbia.

Among the items police found in the car were two flags — an American and Confederate flag – empty ammunition boxes, a laser-sight attachment, and remnants of a package that contained a handgun bullet clip.

Also found in the car were USB drives containing graphic images and racist content.

Jurors also heard testimony about Roof’s purchase of the alleged murder weapon.

Investigators said Roof purchased the gun used in the church murders just days before his 21 birthday in April 2015, and that approval for the purchase should have been denied due to a previous drug conviction.

However, a loophole in the federal background check system set the stage for the shooting, according to witnesses.

After the three-day waiting period came and went without any red flags being raised, Roof returned to the store and purchased the gun along with eight magazines.

Store owner Ronnie Thraikill testified that it wasn’t until two weeks later that he received the federal background check results which told him to deny the sale of the firearm to Roof.

Apparently, an FBI background check examiner overlooked Roof’s February arrest for possession of Suboxone, which is used to treat opiate addiction, prosecutors said.

“If there’s nothing, the law allows dealers to transfer that gun to the potential buyer,” Thraikill said.

FBI Special Agent Amanda Simmons also testified on information gleaned from a computer belonging to Roof’s father, some of it “trashed” by the accused gunman just four hours before the shooting at the church.

Simmons’ testimony signaled the start of another phase of the prosecution’s case — a review of Dylann Roof’s digital footprint, including cell phone and GPS evidence.

Prosecutors on Tuesday are expected to use that evidence to paint a picture of Roof traveling to Charleston on several occasions to scout the area around the church.

Also on Tuesday, Roof’s defense attorneys will announce a change in plans.

Last week, David Bruck had said he didn’t plan to put up much of a defense of Dylann Roof, saying the facts of the case are largely undisputed. But Bruck now says he plans to call “several” witnesses, although their identity has yet to be revealed.

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