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Driver Tip Leads to Arrest of Church Shooting Suspect

  • Molly McKitterick

Charleston, S.C., shooting suspect Dylann Storm Roof is escorted from the Cleveland County Courthouse in Shelby, N.C., Thursday, June 18, 2015.

Charleston, S.C., shooting suspect Dylann Storm Roof is escorted from the Cleveland County Courthouse in Shelby, N.C., Thursday, June 18, 2015.

Debbie Dills was running late on her way to work Thursday at Frady’s Florist in Kings Mountain, North Carolina when she spotted a black Hyundai Elantra. At first she couldn’t figure out why she recognized the car; then she saw its South Carolina plates.

“I got closer and saw that haircut,” she told the Shelby Star newspaper. “I was nervous. I had the worst feeling. Is that him or not him?”

Dills told the Star she had been praying for the victims of the Emanuel church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina and that the man wanted in those killings, 21-year-old Dylann Roof, was on her mind.

Roof’s bowl cut has been plastered all over the Internet. His Facebook photo also shows him wearing patches, representing formerly white-ruled South Africa and Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, that are emblems of white supremacists.

Dills, who is minister of music at a local Baptist church, told the newspaper, “I was in church last night myself,” and that, “I had seen the news coverage before I went to bed.”

She called a work colleague, who phoned the police to tell them the car was traveling west on Highway 74. Dills turned off the highway to go to work; but, something made her resume the chase. She caught up with the Elantra and tailed it until she saw the police pick it up. When she caught up with them again, they had pulled it over and were taking custody of Roof.

“Them boys knocked it down. They were on it,” Dills is quoted as saying. “Just after the arrest, three of them from Kings Mountain were standing right over there. Thanking me and shaking my hand.”

Dills had followed the suspect for 56 kilometers.

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