It seemed like a routine traffic stop when Dylann Roof was pulled over Thursday morning in Shelby, North Carolina.
He put his hands on his steering wheel and calmly identified himself to officers, who were unaware at the time that the Glock semi-automatic handgun under a pillow in the backseat was allegedly used to kill nine people just hours before.
Law enforcement officers in Charleston were growing weary. It was still chaotic a little more than 13 hours after nine people had been shot to death during a Bible study at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.
The community was still on edge as images of a white male in his early 20s with a bowl haircut was broadcast across the nation. He was believed to be travelling in a black Hyundai with distinctive South Carolina tags.
Debbie Dills, a florist, was on her way to work when she noticed the familiar car, but more importantly, the driver. She followed the car and called her boss, Todd Frady, of Frady’s Florist in Kings Mountain, who reached out to a Kings Mountain officer he knew, Shane Davis.
Davis immediately called dispatch, noting that he knew “it (was) strange,” but he had second-hand information about the possible “Charleston killer,” according to 911 calls released Tuesday night from the Shelby Police Department.
Shortly after, Frady called dispatch and relayed the same information, providing a better location of where his employee was and a description of the car and driver.
“The boy has a bowl-looking haircut,” he said in his 911 call.
Radio transmissions follow with an officer advising others where to go and what they were looking for.
“(We’re) advised the suspect looks like the subject they’re talking about on the news from that Charleston shooting, says that he has a bowl haircut, white male, appears to be the vehicle they see on TV,” he relays.
The South Carolina plates on the car Roof was driving turned out to be stolen from a 1995 Mazda out of Little River Inlet, according to radio communications.
Dashcam video also released Tuesday shows the subsequent traffic stop. As officers pursued Roof, Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” can be heard faintly playing on the radio.
Once stopped, Roof gets out of the car and doesn’t put up any resistance as he is handcuffed, escorted into a cruiser and driven away. Shortly after, officers can be seen in the video celebrating with fist-bumps and high fives.
Reach Melissa Boughton at 937-5594 or at Twitter.com/mboughton.