Dylann Roof Visited Slave Plantations, Confederate Landmarks

New photos from Roof’s website, police reports, and eyewitnesses show how the alleged mass murderer came to find his target.

06.20.15 6:00 PM ET

Eyewitnesses, arrest records, metadata from photographs uploaded to the website evidently created by Dylann Roof sketch the most comprehensive timeline leading up to his alleged attack on the Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, South Carolina, on Wednesday, June 17.

February 9:

LastRhodesian.com domain is registered, which was discovered by Twitter sleuths this Saturday.

February 28:

Employees and security guards at Columbiana Centre mall in Columbia, South Carolina, call police about a “white male wearing all black” going into stores and “asking employees out of the ordinary questions” like how many people were working, and what time they opened and closed. Police discover Roof, who claims he is looking for a job but admits he hasn’t applied to any stores. Police find Suboxone, a painkiller, on him without a prescription. Roof is arrested for possession of a controlled substance and banned from the mall for one year.

March 16:


Roof is photographed wearing the flags of Rhodesia and apartheid-era South Africa in front of a sign marking Sullivan’s Island, just south of Charleston. The island was the entry point for 40 percent of the slaves brought to North America, according to the National Parks Service.


Roof is photographed scrawling “1488” into the sand of a beach on the same day, presumably at Sullivan’s Island. “1488” is white supremacist code. The 14 stands for the 14 words of a phrase coined by the founder of the American Nazi Party: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.” The eighth letter of the alphabet is H so 88 is HH for “Heil Hitler!”

March 25:


Roof is photographed at Elmwood Cemetery in Columbia. Elmwood includes an area where Confederate war dead are buried.

April 3:

Roof gets money for his birthday from his family, according to his grandfather. It is believed Roof used that money to legally purchase a .45-caliber Glock pistol.

April 13:


Roof is photographed at the Boone Hall plantation in Charleston—one of America’s oldest plantations, and one that includes original slave quarters.

April 17:


Photograph taken of .45-caliber Glock and ammunition, presumably Roof’s.

April 20:


Roof poses with a gun pointed at the camera.

April 23:




Roof is photographed at McLeod Plantation in James Island, South Carolina. Roof is seen in front of the main plantation house, standing in front of a sign marking a “sacred burial ground for African ancestors,” and behind former slave quarters.

April 24:


Roof is photographed in front of the Museum and Library of Confederate History in Greenville.

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April 26:

Police dispatched to Columbiana Centre mall in Columbia after Roof is seen in his vehicle. Roof is arrested for trespassing in violation of the one-year ban from the mall.

April 29 to May 11:




Roof takes several photographs of pro-Nazi, pro-Confederate propaganda, including another “1488” drawn into a beach and him burning the American flag.

May 11 to June 17:

Little is known about Roof’s whereabouts during this period. Joseph Meek Jr. says Roof contacts him through Facebook during this period about reconnecting. The two were friends in middle school, Meek tells the Associated Press on June 19. Meek says that over vodka one night Roof starts ranting about Trayvon Martin’s death, the Freddie Gray riots in Baltimore, and the virtues of racial segregation.

It is unclear when Roof decided he would target Charleston (as opposed to a location closer to home, like Columbia). There is no date on the manifesto to indicate when it was written, only that it seemingly was done in haste with Roof apologizing for any typos because he didn’t have time to check the manuscript.

June 17:

Meek said that morning Roof was at his house in Eastover, sleeping in his car. Roof drops off his brother and Meek at a lake, but says he doesn’t like the outdoors and is going to see a movie instead.

At 4:53 p.m., two photos on Roof's website are modified.

At approximately 8 p.m., Roof enters Emanuel A.M.E. Church and sits for one hour in Bible study. At approximately 9 p.m., Roof allegedly opens fire on the Bible study group, killing nine. A survivor says Roof told her she was kept alive so she would tell the whole world what he did.

June 18:

Roof’s father calls Charleston police that morning when he identifies the man on security camera footage at Emanuel A.M.E. as his son, according to a court affidavit.

Handout/Charleston Police

Roof is arrested in Shelby County, North Carolina, 250 miles north of Charleston after a motorist calls police when she sees a driver matching Roof’s description. Roof reportedly gives a statement “tantamount to confession” to the church massacre, and tells investigators he was heading to Nashville, Tennessee, but expected to be caught in Charleston.

Jason Miczek/Reuters