Alleged church shooter’s friend pleads not guilty to lying

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A friend of the alleged Charleston church shooter pleaded not guilty Friday to charges of lying to investigators and concealing information and his bond was set at $100,000.

Joey Meek, 21, stood before a federal magistrate and answered “yes” to questions about whether he understood the charges against him and the possible sentences. Meek’s mother blew him a kiss as he was led out of the courtroom in handcuffs and leg shackles. It wasn’t immediately clear if he would be able to make bail.

Court documents unsealed Friday said Meek told an FBI agent that he did not know specifics about Dylann Roof’s plan to shoot churchgoers during a Bible study in Charleston, but the FBI says that was a lie.

Roof stayed with Meek and his family in the weeks before authorities said Roof shot nine black church members to death in a racially motivated attack on June 17 at Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal.

A day after the shooting, Meek told The Associated Press that Roof had drunkenly complained to him that “blacks were taking over the world” and “someone needed to do something about it for the white race.”

Meek, of Lexington, also told the AP that Roof said he used birthday money from his parents to buy a .45-caliber Glock semi-automatic handgun. Meek said he took the gun away from Roof the night of his drunken rant but gave it back to him when he had sobered up.

Roof is in jail, facing federal hate crime charges and nine counts of murder in state court.

Meek, if convicted, faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison for lying to investigators. The maximum penalty for concealing information is three years.

Meek’s brothers and his girlfriend, Lindsey Fry, were with him in court. His mother was red-faced and teary eyed as she left. They did not talk with reporters.

Meek’s attorney and prosecutors also refused to comment.

On Aug. 6, Meek received a letter that he was the target of an investigation. He was arrested Thursday while working at his air conditioning repair job.

Meek is 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.

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