COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — 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 the person was 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.”
Roof faces federal hate crime charges as well as nine counts of murder in state court.
Meek told the AP that Roof occasionally stayed with him at a mobile home in Red Bank, about 20 miles from Columbia, before the shootings at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.
Meek, of Lexington, told AP that Roof said he used birthday money from his parents to buy a .45-caliber Glock semi-automatic handgun, which Meek took away from him the night of his drunken rant but gave back to him when Roof had sobered up.
Meek also said he called authorities after recognizing Roof from surveillance footage from the church. But, according to a federal law enforcement official, authorities believe Meek was dishonest with them during their investigation. That official also was not authorized to speak publicly about the investigation and requested anonymity.
Meek’s girlfriend, Lindsey Fry, said he called her on his cellphone Thursday afternoon and said it looked like federal agents were approaching him as he was at his job repairing air conditioners.
“They want to talk to me, but I think I’m going to jail,” Fry recalled Meek saying.
He said goodbye and she hasn’t heard from Meek since, Fry said outside the mobile home where they live.
Fry said she doesn’t know if Meek has an attorney or where he is being held, but earlier told AP that Meek is innocent. He is expected to have a hearing Friday.
Federal officials can keep investigations secret until someone is charged, or they can opt to let subjects know they are under investigation — as they did with Meek in a letter Aug. 6 — in hopes that the subject will get an attorney, according to Rene Josey, a former U.S. Attorney now in private practice in South Carolina.
Meek is currently on probation, having pleaded guilty earlier this year to possessing a stolen vehicle, according to Lexington County court records.
No other family or friends who spent extensive time with Roof at the mobile home have received target letters, Fry said.
Associated Press writer Seanna Adcox in Red Bank contributed to this report.
Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP.