A friend of Dylann Roof, the man accused of fatally shooting nine black people in a historic Charleston, S.C., church in June, is under investigation.
A law enforcement office told the Associated Press that Joey Meek, a 21-year-old man from Lexington, S.C., received a letter earlier this month that he may be accused of lying to police and knowing about a crime before or after it was committed but failing to report it.
Mr. Meek told the AP he had notified authorities after recognizing Roof from the church’s surveillance footage.
Mr. Roof and Meek had been friends in school, Meek said, but they eventually drifted apart. Then, a few weeks before the June 17 shootings at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, Roof began occasionally staying with him at his Red Banks home.
He said Roof told him that he had used birthday money from his parents to buy a .45-caliber Glock semi-automatic handgun. Drunk on vodka, Roof told Meek that "blacks were taking over the world" and that "someone needed to do something about it for the white race.” Before the accused gunman passed out, Meek took away his gun but then later gave it back when he got sober.
Authorities, however, are suspicious that Meek was dishonest during the investigation. He’s currently on probation for a crime earlier this year: He possessed a stolen vehicle, according to Lexington County court records.
His girlfriend Lindsey Fry told the AP he’s got a good job repairing air conditioners, and that he’s afraid of going to jail since receiving the letter from law enforcement.
"He's really worried," Ms. Fry said. "He knows he didn't do anything wrong. But when you're innocent, it can be really hard to prove you are innocent."
She said she had testified before a grand jury about what Meek did after the shooting and what she knew about Roof.
Rene Josey, a former US Attorney now in private practice in South Carolina, explained to the AP that instead of keeping an investigation a secret until charges are brought, federal officials can let subjects know they are under investigation so they’d get an attorney, and such is the case with Meek.
During a hearing Wednesday, Roof’s attorney said his client would plead guilty in exchange of a life sentence, as prosecutors have said they will pursue the death penalty.
[Editor's note: The summary of the this article has been updated to correct a misspelling of Joey Meek's name.]