Dylann Roof was attacked by a fellow inmate as he was stepping into a jail shower Thursday in South Carolina, USA Today reports. Roof is charged with killing nine people during Bible study at a historic black church in 2015 in Charleston. According to NBC News, the 22-year-old Roof is in protective custody, meaning inmates' cells are supposed to be locked while he showers alone. But police say 25-year-old Dwayne Stafford got out of his cell, ran downstairs, and started pummeling Roof. Roof suffered only bruises before officers stopped the attack. One of the officers who was supposed to be monitoring the situation was on break at the time; the other was fetching toilet paper for another inmate.
Police say the assault on Roof was "unprovoked," the Charleston Post and Courier reports. Sheriff Al Cannon says there's no evidence it was racially motivated "beyond the obvious speculation that we would all have given the nature of the situation." Roof, who is white, is facing federal hate crime charges and is said to have wanted to start a race war with the shooting. Stafford is black. Cannon doesn't believe the guards coordinated to allow the attack but says they will be looking into why Stafford was able to get out of his cell. Roof isn't planning on pressing charges against Stafford. In the wake of the attack, Stafford—who is being held on robbery and assault charges—was praised on social media. (Read more Dylann Roof stories.)