Joey Meek had advance warning of Dylann Roof’s plans to attack a historic black church but failed to notify authorities. Even after the attack took place, Meek asked another friend not to contact authorities right away. Today, Meek was sentenced to 27 months in jail not for his failure to prevent the attack but for lying to the FBI. From the NY Times:
One night in early June, after consuming vodka, marijuana and cocaine, Mr. Roof told Mr. Meek of his support for segregation and his desire to “do something big and put South Carolina on the map,” Mr. Meek told the F.B.I. He said that he had been planning the attack for six months and that he hoped to carry it out on a Wednesday because fewer people would be at church. He told Mr. Meek he would then kill himself.
Mr. Meek dismissed the seriousness and did not notify the authorities.
Mr. Meek learned about the shootings soon after Mr. Roof opened fire and discussed his fears with a friend, Dalton Tyler, telling him not to contact the police. Mr. Tyler held off that night. But the next morning, as a photograph of Mr. Roof from a church security camera began circulating, Mr. Tyler became the first person to call a police tip line and identify the gunman, according to a search warrant.
When Meek was questioned by the FBI, he initially denied knowing any details about the attack, such as where it would take place. But in a follow-up interview, Meek admitted to knowing those details. The Times notes that his decision not to report the attack to authorities was not a federal crime. But lying to the FBI about what he knew was a crime.
Meek is expected to be a target during his time behind bars and will probably need to spend his entire sentence in solitary confinement. Live 5 News in South Carolina reports Meek expressed his regret for not coming forward to the families of the nine people killed by Dylann Roof. Meek also said he was worried he may not survive his incarceration:
“I’m sorry from the bottom of my heart. I’m sorry that this has all happened to such beautiful families,” he read aloud in court.
The statement was part of a court document released to the public in February.
Meek went on to say, “If I was not to return to my family today and have to leave them, then I would feel hopeless. I wouldn’t have a job anymore that I’ve had for the longest in my life. I don’t know if I will make it out of prison alive and that scares me.”
Dylann Roof murdered 9 people at the Emanuel AME church in Charleston in June 2015 in hopes of starting a race war. Roof was sentenced to death by lethal injection in January.