The Lawyer Who Handled Dylann Roof’s Drug Case Says He Seemed Like “Just a Normal Kid”

Roof was previously arrested in March. Here’s what else we know.

Broadleak News

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.


After Dylann Storm Roof was arrested Thursday morning for allegedly shooting nine people at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, Ken Mathews, an attorney who has been representing Roof in an ongoing drug-possession case, was, he says, “very shocked” to hear about what Roof had allegedly done. He tells Mother Jones, “The dealings I had with him, he was just a normal kid.”

Mathews, a Columbia, South Carolina, attorney, notes that so far in the drug case he has had “very limited dealings” with Roof. He says he saw “nothing that would indicate that [Roof] would take this type of action.”

The local police have called the shooting a hate crime. Mathews says he has seen no signs that Roof harbored any racial animus: “I had no inkling of anything like that in the dealings I had with him.”

Mathews has known the Roof family for years, dating back to a custody dispute between Dylann’s father Ben and mother Amy over visitation rights concerning Dylann. Mathews says he spoke to Dylann’s father this morning, and “it’s very, very difficult.”

Mathews became Roof’s lawyer after Roof was arrested in March at the Columbiana Centre, a mall in Columbia, and charged with possession of suboxone, a drug used to treat opiate withdrawals. Mathews says Roof had gone into some stores and “asked people some questions, which made some people uncomfortable,” including what time the stores closed. Someone at one of the stores contacted the authorities. Roof was stopped and searched, according to Mathews, and the police found he was carrying suboxone and arrested him. Roof was also given a trespassing warning, which he violated a couple of weeks later, Mathews notes, and Roof was subsequently cited for trespassing.

Here’s what else we know about Roof:

  • Roof, 21, was arrested midday Thursday in Shelby, North Carolina, about a three and a half-hour drive from the historic Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. The shooting of nine black churchgoers happened at about 9 p.m. Wednesday.
  • Charleston police chief Greg Mullen said he believed the shooting to be a “hate crime.”
  • Roof’s uncle told Reuters that Roof was introverted and soft-spoken.
  • The uncle also said Roof’s father had recently given him a .45-caliber handgun as a birthday present. “I don’t have any words for it. Nobody in my family had seen anything like this coming,” he said. 
  • Roof is from Lexington, South Carolina, and attended White Knoll High School, which a high school friend said had a mix of black and white students.
  • An ornamental license plate on the front of Roof’s car had a Confederate flag on it.
  • Roof’s roommate told ABC News that Roof was a “bit into segregation and other stuff,” and “said he wanted to start a civil war. He said he was going to do something like that and then kill himself.”

 

IT'S NOT THAT WE'RE SCREWED WITHOUT TRUMP:

"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. It's our first time asking for an outpouring of support since screams of FAKE NEWS and so much of what Trump stood for made everything we do so visceral. Like most newsrooms, we face incredibly hard budget realities, and it's unnerving needing to raise big money when traffic is down.

So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

payment methods

IT'S NOT THAT WE'RE SCREWED WITHOUT TRUMP:

"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate