Roof reportedly laughed as he admitted to the Charleston massacre. His ultimate goal was to "agitate race relations."
As expected, the first few days of the death penalty trial of Dylann Roof have been incredibly dramatic. Today (Dec. 9), the Charleston jury was shown footage of Roof's near-instantaneous confession after he was tracked down and arrested in Shelby, NC the morning after his racially motivated massacre at an African American church in Charleston on June 17, 2015.
When asked to recount his actions and whereabouts on the night of the killing, Roof calmly told FBI agent Michael Stansbury, "I went to that church in Charleston and, uh, I did it," followed by a laugh, reports CNN.
"Did you shoot them," he was then asked.
"Yes," replied Roof with another laugh. "It’s not what I normally say because I don’t want to make myself seem guilty," he continued. "Well, I did, I killed them. Well, I guess.”
Roof was asked about how many people he thought he killed that day, and responded, "If I was going to guess, five maybe. I'm really not sure."
He was told that eight people died at the scene and that there was one more fatality in the hospital. Upon being asked how this revelation made him feel, Roof said, "Well, it makes me feel bad," though he disputed that there were even nine people present at the church.
At one point, he also said, "I regret that I did it, a little bit."
Such moments of remorse were countered by him rationalizing his actions, saying, "Somebody had to do it." He later said that "black people are killing white people every day ... What I did is so minuscule compared to what they do to white people every day."
He described his actions as "political" and admitted himself to be a white supremacist, saying, "Our people are superior," he said. "That's just the fact." He explained that his views on race were partly inspired by the killing of Trayvon Martin.
Roof would explain that he had researched the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church as well as the time of the Bible study group before he made the drive to Charleston from his hometown of Columbia. He sat at the Bible study group silently for about 15 minutes, deliberating his plan of attack. Without saying a word, he began shooting when the group stood up to pray.
The jury was also shown footage of Roof entering the church and leaving immediately after his attack, with his gun in hand. They were also shown an image -- taken via Snapchat from one of the victims, 26-year-old Tywanza Sanders -- of the study group, with Roof present. Sanders would later plead to Roof for his life, saying, "We mean you no harm."
Roof's motive was to "agitate race relations," as per the video confessional.
He claims that he planned to have enough ammunition in case he decided upon suicide.
The State crime reporter Cynthia Roldán provided live updates from the Charleston courthouse on Twitter. Her full recount of the day's proceedings can be found here.
On Wednesday, the trial began with the prosecutor detailing Roof's heinous attack, which, in turn, caused Roof's mother to collapse and be admitted to the hospital with a heart attack. The opening day was also filled with the emotional testimonies of family members of the nine victims. Felicia Sanders, 59, who watched Roof kill her son, Tywanza Sanders, as well as her 87-year-old aunt, Susie Jackson, said of the 22-year-old defendant, "He is evil, there is no place for him except the pit of hell."
The defense argued that the extreme language and emotion of the testimony, which they thought was obstructive to courtroom deliberation, was grounds for a mistrial. Their motion, however, was denied by U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel yesterday.