There have been rumors about this coming out of South Carolina for a while now but it seems that law enforcement officials have made their move and arrested a friend of Dylann Roof. The real question here is… for what? (WSPA)

A friend of the alleged Charleston church shooter was arrested Thursday, more than a month after authorities told him he was under federal investigation for lying to them and failing to report a crime, an official close to the probe said.

Joey Meek, 21, was arrested Thursday, the official told The Associated Press, speaking only on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly talk about the case. The official didn’t immediately say what charges Meek faces.

Meek has said that Dylann Roof, who is accused of killing nine black church members during Bible study on June 17, stayed with him before the shootings. Meek told The Associated Press that Roof had drunkenly complained that “blacks were taking over the world” and “someone needed to do something about it for the white race.”

Without having a specific charge listed it’s difficult to say exactly what they think Meek is guilty of. But CNN’s coverage at least gives us a hint.

In the days after the shooting, Meek spoke with reporters with CNN and other media outlets, recounting how Roof had drunkenly vowed one night “to do something crazy.”

Meek said he hid Roof’s gun that night, but put it back the next day.

“I didn’t take him serious,’ he said.

The general consensus, even from the administration folks “speaking on condition of anonymity” thus far seems to be that Meek is going to be in trouble for lying to the police. That’s bad, of course, but what’s the substance of the allegation and how much culpability do they see in Meek’s actions as it relates to Roof shooting up the church?

This could land in a few different ways. Generally when a suspect gets tagged for something like this it winds up being along the lines of obstructing justice. That would be the case if they were on the hunt for Roof and Meek had been hiding him or sending them on a wild goose chase or simply refusing to disclose information which could have led to his arrest. That’s clearly not the case here. By the time anyone talked to Meek the cops had long since had Roof in custody.

A second possibility is that Meek knew more than he has told so far and had been told by his friend of a specific plan. That would require him having definitive knowledge of an at least somewhat functional plan to commit the crime, putting him in a position where he knew (or should have known in the opinion of a reasonable observer) that people were going to die and yet did nothing to alert the police or stop the crime. That’s a tricky one. First of all, it likely couldn’t be charged at all unless Roof is in jail singing a tune for the investigators and throwing Meek under the bus. If all Dylann Roof did was get drunk and start ranting about how he was angry at black people and “somebody needed to do something about it” then I think you’d be hard pressed to get a jury to bring in a conviction. Drunks say all sorts of things and generally forget them when they sober up in the morning. But if Roof had set forth a bunch of specific plans to attack that particular church, showed Meek the gun and told him he’d gotten it for that specific purpose, etc. then I suppose a conviction could be gotten. But why would Roof give up his friend? And even if he were, unless he was secretly recording the conversations it becomes a case of He Said / He Said when Meek claims he never got that specific.

That brings us to the last potential scenario. Is it possible that Meek was materially complicit in the commission of the act? That could have included anything from providing him with ammunition to driving him to the church or any number of other things. While it sounds the most unlikely and outlandish on the surface, it would also be the scenario where the authorities would be most likely to succeed in prosecuting him if they have come up with proof of it. That’s a far more serious charge than lying to the police, but it would also be the easiest crime to investigate if Roof was cooperating.

Of course, that still brings us back to the question of why Roof would give him up in the first place. It’s not as if he’s going to be offered a deal to avoid the death penalty for giving up a low level accomplice in such a high profile crime. Usually deals are offered to the accomplice in exchange for help in bringing down the big fish, not the other way around. We’ll know more if and when they announce some charges, but this is a darned peculiar turn of events no matter how you cut it.