After the Charleston massacre, some political and law enforcement officials worried about possible retaliation. But one former federal prosecutor said on Friday that he had been more concerned about imitators.
“I was worried about a lot of things, and that event was so horrific that I really didn’t know what effect it was going to have on the community,” said William N. Nettles, who was the United States attorney for the District of South Carolina when the attack happened. “But at the time, my hunch was that I needed to be worried about a white nationalist’s copycat crime.”
Mr. Nettles, recalling the public expressions of forgiveness by some relatives of Mr. Roof’s victims, said he had been less fearful about a black person seeking race-based revenge “because of the enormous grace that was shown by the congregation and the community as a whole.”
Credit Metro Nashville Police Department, via Associated Press
Although the church that Mr. Roof targeted was predominantly black, the church in last Sunday’s attack had a mixed congregation.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States attorney’s office in Nashville have opened a civil rights investigation into the shooting in Antioch.
The United States attorney’s office and the Nashville police declined to comment on the note.
Mr. Samson, a legal resident of the United States who immigrated from Sudan in the 1990s, had attended the church in years past but had not been seen there more recently. Police said that four firearms believed to be Mr. Samson’s had been recovered: two pistols from the church and one pistol and one rifle from his vehicle.
Investigators have been trying to figure out what prompted the shooting, exploring the history of any anger or resentments on Mr. Samson’s part, as well as any mental illness.
In an entry on his Facebook page from early this year, Mr. Samson, responding to a quip about a photo he posted of himself wearing a green Hulk mask, said, “Naah, rage is my preferred state of mind.”
In June, Mr. Samson sent a text to his father in which he seemed to be threatening suicide. “Your phone is off, I have a gun to my head,” the text, sent shortly after midnight, said, according to a police report made by the father. Using an expletive, he texted his father to “have a nice” life.
On the Friday before the shooting, Mr. Samson was one of about 30 students who attended a class for unarmed security officers at the Academy of Personal Protection and Security in Nashville. The class was about eight hours long. According to the owner of the academy, Buford Tune, who is also an instructor, Mr. Samson received his license and was affable and polite during his time there.
“It was ‘yes sir, no sir’ and he was nothing but very pleasant,” Mr. Tune recalled. “There was absolutely nothing that seemed odd. This is a real Jekyll and Hyde thing.”
Mr. Samson was then hired by Crimson Security Service as an unarmed officer. A lawyer for the company, Laural Hemenway, said that he reported to work that Saturday “for training purposes only” and that “there was no incident or indication of any problem with Mr. Samson at any time during his shift.”
Around 10 a.m. the next day, the company, she said, received a text from Mr. Samson stating that he was not going to return to work there. “Crimson Security Service terminated his employment upon receipt of his message,” Ms. Hemenway said, adding that was the last time Crimson Security communicated with Mr. Samson.
Source: New York Times