Feds arrest friend of Roof

Dylann Roof spent three or four nights a week at this mobile home in the Lexington County community of Red Bank before he was accused of fatally shooting nine people on June 17 at the Emanuel AME Church in downtown Charleston. On Thursday, federal agents arrested Joseph “Joey” Meek Jr., a friend who welcomed Roof into the home.

Federal agents on Thursday afternoon arrested a friend who welcomed Dylann Roof into his Lexington County home and listened to his scheme for violence in the weeks before the attack on Emanuel AME Church, officials said.

Joseph “Joey” Meek Jr., 21, of Weaver Drive near Lexington is expected to be arraigned Friday morning in federal court on a charge of misprision of a felony, the officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity said.

The officials were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter, they said.

The development came a day after federal authorities told The Associated Press that Meek was under investigation for knowing about Roof’s plans for an attack without reporting it.

Meek hid Roof’s Glock pistol after Roof made threats of violence during a bout of drinking and spoke of starting a race war, but he later gave it back, family members have told The Post and Courier.

Under federal law, a person is guilty of misprision if he knows about “the actual commission of a felony” but “conceals and does not as soon as possible” tell authorities. If convicted, Meek faces a fine and up to three years in prison.

But federal prosecutors also filed court paperwork Thursday indicating they would offer a lesser punishment to a suspect in connection with Roof’s case. Details of that arrangement were not immediately revealed because a judge had sealed the documents.

In the filing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Nathan Williams did not say exactly what the motion would achieve, though he indicated that it would pertain to “downward departure,” the process through which a criminal defendant gets a lesser punishment than sentencing guidelines call for. A judge could allow the move for various reasons, including a defendant’s cooperation with an investigation or a situation in which a suspect plays a relatively minor role in the offense.

Such a motion is typically made public unless prosecutors find an exception under court rules. Williams proposed an order, which U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel later signed, stating that the motion should be shielded from public view “since it reveals grand jury materials and a grand jury investigation.”

Roof already has been indicted on 33 federal charges, including hate crime counts and religious freedom violations, in the June 17 shooting that killed nine people at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. He could face the death penalty, though Williams has not indicated whether he would pursue that punishment.

Roof is white, and all of his victims were black.

Before the assault on the Calhoun Street church, federal investigators said, Roof posted online about his beliefs of white supremacy and wrote about how he would take them to the real world. He chose Charleston, he wrote, because of its historical significance and ratio of black people to white people.

He and Meek were childhood friends who reconnected recently on Facebook.

Nearly two months before the shooting, Roof visited Meek’s mobile home in the Red Bank community south of Lexington. There, they played video games, watched movies and drank alcohol. He showed off his Confederate battle flag and talked about burning his American one.

He stayed overnight in the trailer three or four times a week, sleeping on wooden pallets on the floor.

One night, Roof drank vodka with Meek and his friends, including a black neighbor, and talked about carrying out mass violence in Charleston because of his beliefs about race, the Meek family members have said. Meek took a pistol from Roof’s car and stashed it in an air vent, they said, but he gave it back when Roof sobered up the next morning.

“They didn’t take him seriously,” Meek’s mother, Kim Konzny, has told the newspaper. “They didn’t think anything of it. They thought it was gibberish.”

Reach Andrew Knapp at (843) 937-5414 or twitter.com/offlede.