Mary Beth Hill, a spokeswoman for the Lexington District school system, confirmed via email that Roof did not graduate from White Knoll and that the school could not find anything on other schools or other years of enrollment. Other education records also suggest a troubled childhood.
Roof was a fourth-grader at White Knoll Elementary in Lexington County’s District One from 2003 to 2004. He then transferred for the fifth, sixth and seventh grades to schools in Richland County’s District One.
He subsequently switched back to Lexington County, attending Carolina Spring Middle School as an eighth-grader from 2007 to 2008 and White Knoll High School as a ninth-grade student starting in August 2008. Roof repeated the ninth grade the following year, but left White Knoll on Feb. 17, 2010, and once again rejoined the Richland County district, entering Dreher High School on March 1.
Roof exited Dreher as a ninth-grader May 29, 2010, and did not return after that, a spokeswoman for the Richland district said.
The two high schools’ racial profiles differed markedly the year Roof was attended both. In 2010, Dreher High School had 1,176 students, 53.8 percent of whom were African American and 40.7 percent of whom were white, according to Schooldigger. The same year, 17 percent of White Knoll High School’s 1,927 students, were black, while 77 percent were white.
Socioeconomically, they were more similar. At Dreher, 34 percent of students rates of students qualified for free or reduced lunches, with 36 percent at White Knoll eligible for the same.
Roof’s Facebook page did not appear to list any high school besides White Knoll. It was not clear why he transferred so many times between school districts or whether he had a disciplinary record. Court records show he has a criminal record including a felony drug case, plus a misdemeanor.
On Feb. 28, security at the Columbiana mall called police because Roof was dressed in “all black” and acting bizarrely in several stores, according to reports.
In that incident, an officer questioned Roof, who consented to be searched, and police recovered several strips of Suboxone, a powerful medication used to treat addiction to heroin and painkillers, in his possession. He was later arrested and banned from the mall.
Chris Spears, manager of the Shoe Department store, said in an interview that Roof approached his assistant while she was working.
“He was asking her all kinds of personal questions, wanting to know work schedules. She was busy working and she felt uncomfortable, so she called security and they came and got him,” Spears said. He said Roof was “wanting to basically see how we ran things” and acted “like he was on drugs … really creepy.”
On April 26, Roof was arrested a second time for trespassing at the mall, court records show. Roof turned 21 that month, and authorities say he received a gun for his birthday from his father.
Although Roof listed White Knoll High School on Facebook, over the years he moved back and forth between schools in two counties, according to school records. He repeated his ninth-grade year at White Knoll in Lexington County, but transferred to Dreher High Schoolin Richland County in March 2010to finish his freshman year. Neither school district had any further records of him.South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, in an interview with CNN, said his niece knew Roof. “My sister … said that my niece Emily went to school with him in the eighth grade and went to the same high school. I don’t know if he finished high school but [he was a] strange, disturbed young man.”