Wrong charge listed after Dylann Roof drug arrest

Wrong charge listed after Dylann Roof drug arrest
Dylann Roof (Source: Lexington County Detention Center)
Dylann Roof (Source: Lexington County Detention Center)

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - A Lexington County Detention Center employee entered the wrong information into a South Carolina arrest database, allowing the man charged with killing nine people at a Charleston church to buy the gun authorities say was used in the attack.

A spokesman for the Lexington County Sheriff's Department said in a statement on Monday when Roof was arrested by the Columbia Police Department on a drug charge at Columbiana Centre, a clerical error led to the Lexington County Sheriff's Department being listed as the arresting agency.

Adam Myrick said that information was corrected two days after the Feb. 28 arrest. That correction wasn't sent to the State Law Enforcement Division, which maintains the records that the FBI checks.

When the FBI did its check in mid-April, an examiner called Lexington County deputies, who said the arrest actually happened in Columbia. Before the examiner could find the report, the waiting period expired and the gun was sold.

The FBI's response set the tone for the debate over Roof's gun purchase.

"I think we need to look at the fact that it's not about time, it's about technology," Gov. Nikki Haley said during an interview with Meet the Press on July 12. "If someone has a charge, it should go in a database and should be shown immediately to anyone who's looking at it."

The charge the FBI saw initially isn't the actual drug charge Dylann Roof received.

In a statement released Monday by the Lexington County Sheriff's Office, affirming the FBI's information about a clerical error, the agency also revealed the initial drug charge Dylann Roof received in February was also incorrect.

After Roof's arrest in North Carolina following the Emanuel AME Church massacre, a review of the charging document also showed he had been charged with a different subsection of a South Carolina drug law. Changes were made to reflect accurate charges, Myrick said.

"After reviewing our booking procedures, we've made changes to ensure the proper arresting agency is noted in an arrest file," the statement said. "We're using technology to implement safeguards that will make sure we know when discrepancies have been entered."

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