Dylann Roof, the 22-year-old behind the shooting of nine churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015, was assaulted by a fellow inmate in jail on Thursday.
According to an incident report, Roof was preparing to shower at 7:45 a.m. when an attacker identified as 25-year-old Dwayne Stafford escaped his cell and ran down the stairs, where he began to beat him. Jail records from Cannon Detention Center list Stafford at 5 foot 10 and 144 pounds and show he was being held on $50,000 bail for strong armed robbery and assault and battery charges. The fight was reportedly "unprovoked," and Roof sustained bruising to his face and back before detention officers broke it up.
In a press conference on Thursday, Major Eric Watson of the Charleston County Sheriff's office said Roof was "defending himself" against a "surprise attack." Stafford will reportedly be charged with third-degree assault and battery, although Roof's attorneys said they will not pursue legal action against him. Investigations of how the incident occurred are ongoing, as jail doors are supposed to be locked when Roof is moved around the facilities for his own safety, due to the racially charged nature of his crime. According to the Post and Courier, the Sheriff's office is considering the incident a "wake up call" for jail safety policies.
"We have adequate policies in place," he said. "It’s a matter of, again, making sure that folks stay at a heightened sense of awareness and that they do follow those policies and procedures."
Roof was arrested on June 17, 2015, after the massacre at the historically black Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. He was charged with 33 federal crimes, including nine murder charges and 24 civil rights violations. He is in jail without parole awaiting a January 2017 trial where he faces the death penalty.