Dylann Roof's defense attorney disputed a report that the Emanuel AME Church shooter stopped at a second African-American church in Jedburg after killing nine worshippers in downtown Charleston on June 17, 2015.
According to newly unsealed court documents Wednesday, prosecutors believed Roof drove his car 29 miles from Emanuel to Branch AME Church on Jedburg Road and stopped there. The documents cited an analysis of a GPS device found in his car, which showed that Roof shut the device off for about two minutes as he approached the second church.
David Bruck, Roof's attorney, issued a written statement Thursday saying that reports about Roof and Branch AME "are wrong and need to be corrected." According to Bruck, the GPS data showed that Roof drove past Branch AME at 30 to 40 miles per hour.
"The evidence actually suggests that Roof simply turned off I-26 at the first deserted-looking exit, adjusted his GPS to stay on secondary roads rather than the interstate (which is why his GPS device was briefly turned off), and kept on going," Bruck wrote. "The fact that an AME church happened to be nearby as this was occurring does not prove or imply that Roof planned a second attack. Indeed, there is no evidence that he even saw the Branch AME Church, or knew it existed."
Bruck added, "Now that the prosecution’s discarded theory has been made public, the government should reassure the public and the people of Branch AME Church that Roof posed no particularized threat to that congregation."
GPS data showed that Roof had driven past Branch AME four months before the shooting, on Feb. 27, 2015. He was living in Eastover at the time, about 74 miles away. Investigators found lists of predominantly black churches in Roof's car after his arrest, but Branch AME was not included on those lists.