Friend of Charleston Shooter Arraigned on Criminal Charges
A close friend and former roommate of the “Charleston Shooter” Dylann Roof has been arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and formally charged.
Authorities arrested Joseph Carlton Meek on September 18th on federal criminal charges related to obstructing justice after he lied to investigators about his knowledge of Roof’s murderous intent.
On the evening of June 17th, 2015, Dylann Roof entered the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Downtown Charleston, South Carolina and opened fire. The 21-year-old killed 9 church members present during the evening service. He was found in North Carolina the next morning, and the .45 caliber handgun in his car was tied to the mass shooting. He was arrested and interrogated by the FBI.
After some investigation, a website with videos of Roof stating his intent and clearly slandering African Americans was discovered. Other friends testified that Roof had been planning the attack for at least six months, and had investigated the Emanuel AME Church specifically because of its ties to African American civil rights history.
Roof is scheduled to reappear in court for a final hearing on his punishment. He reportedly wanted to plead guilty, but his defense attorney has advised no plea until it is known whether or not prosecutors will seek the death penalty for the mass shooting.
Twenty-one-year-old Meek is a childhood friend of Roof’s. The two reportedly rekindled their friendship over Facebook, and the unemployed Roof stayed with Meek in his home in Red Bank, SC for several days prior to the shooting.
According to the indictment, Meek “represented and stated [to FBI agents] that he did not know specifics of Roof’s plan to shoot individuals on a during Bible study, at an AME Church in Charleston, S.C.” However, the indictment also stated that Meek knew his statements to the FBI at the time “were false, fictitious and fraudulent when made.”
The first federal charge in the indictment charges Meek with misprision of a felony, as Meek had “actual knowledge” of Roof’s intentions and plans, but lied to investigators. The other federal criminal charge involves concealing Roof’s intentions.
Meek has pleaded not guilty to the two federal criminal charges and as of Monday, September 21st, is still in jail with a $100,000 bond.
Former U.S. Attorney for the District of South Carolina and founder of the Strom Law Firm, Pete Strom said that the FBI and other federal investigators will of course aggressively pursue any potential witnesses or leads in Roof’s case, and will not take lying, misrepresentation, concealment, or other acts that could be considered conspiracy, lightly.
“This guy obviously was close to Roof and, now that he’s charged, in order for him to get any kind of deal, he is going to have to agree to cooperate and most likely pass a polygraph,” Strom said. “They’re going to want to know if this was a wider conspiracy. If there are more people involved, there are going to be more charges.”
Meek could face up to 8 years in prison for the federal criminal charges – 5 years for lying to investigators, and 3 years for concealing information. According to Lexington County court records.He is already on probation in South Carolina for possessing a stolen vehicle.