WASHINGTON • A 22-year-old man facing the death penalty for killing nine African Americans in a South Carolina church said he did it because "black people are killing white people every day".
There were neither tears nor anger from Dylann Roof in the two-hour taped confession made the day after the shooting last year, as he stared straight ahead with his hands in his lap.
"Well, I killed them, I guess," the self-described white supremacist said with a chuckle in his confession shown on Friday at his trial, according to The Post and Courier newspaper.
Roof told two Federal Bureau of Investigation agents interrogating him that he deliberately chose Mother Emanuel in Charleston, the oldest African Methodist Episcopal church in the South, as the scene of his crime. "I wasn't going to go to another church because there could be white people there," he said, according to ABC television affiliate WCIV.
When asked if his goal had been to become a martyr, Roof responded: "Yeah, that would be nice, sure."
The gunman said he was first inspired after reading online about a neighbourhood watchman's 2012 killing of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin. That case sparked widespread protests and was a catalyst for national outrage over violence blamed on law enforcement against African Americans.
"And then for some reason after I read that, I typed in, for some reason I typed in black on white crime. And ever since then..." Roof said.
"I had to do it because somebody had to do something because black people are killing white people every day. They rape 100 white people a day."
The video marks the first time the public has heard Roof speak at length about the grisly attack on June 17 last year.
Sobs could be heard in the courtroom as the video was shown, local media reported.
Roof had a total of eight ammunition magazines, each loaded with 11 bullets rather than the full 13.
That means the total number of bullets was 88, an abbreviation used by white supremacists to represent the Nazi salute "Heil Hitler".
The last magazine, which was found unspent, was meant for himself, he said.
Roof has not said anything in court since the trial kicked off on Wednesday, maintaining a stony-faced demeanour and refusing to lift his eyes from the defence table where he sat.
His mother, however, had a heart attack during a survivor's tearful testimony and had to be hospitalised on Wednesday.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, NYTIMES