Fourth day in Dylann Roof trial reveals he had other black churches on a hit list


CHARLESTON, S.C. — Before Dylann Roof allegedly carried out the massacre that left nine black churchgoers dead at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, he did some research.

He wanted to know which cities in South Carolina had the highest black-to-white ratios and whether any of those locations had churches with large African-American congregations, according to witness testimony in Roof's capital hate crimes trial on Monday. 

But in the end, and as is well-known now, Roof decided on Emanuel because he believed an attack there would resonate throughout the black community, federal authorities have alleged.

Mic/U.S. District Court

Prosecutors called on Brittany Burke, a former crime scene investigator with South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, to discuss the contents of Roof's car, which included notes scribbled on loose pages. On one page, Roof had listed the names of predominantly black churches in Charleston: Morris Brown AME Church, Calvary AME Church, Central Baptist Church, St. Patrick's Catholic Church, Ebenezer AME Church and "Mother Emanuel."

On another page of Roof's notes, shown in open court, each of the churches is listed with address information and times of their Sunday worship services, bible studies and office hours. Based on Roof's FBI interrogation, played in court last week, it's likely he gathered the information from congregations' websites and through phone calls to the church offices.

On June 17, 2015, Roof sat in on a bible study meeting with several members and the pastor of Emanuel. As they said a closing prayer, the then-21-year-old Roof allegedly opened fire in the church fellowship hall.

Stephen B. Morton/AP

Since Wednesday, Roof, a professed white supremacist, has been on trial over a 33-count federal hate crimes indictment, in which federal authorities allege he carried out the attack on Emanuel because he knew the members were black. Other trial testimony has included a survivor of the attack, as well as gruesome crime scene photos showing the Emanuel Nine's lifeless bodies.

If convicted, Roof faces the death penalty.

Dec. 16, 2016, 10:13 a.m. Eastern: This story has been updated.