The website Taking a Stand Against Discrimination (TASAD) launched an online donation campaign on Thursday for inmate Dwayne Stafford after he assaulted fellow prisoner Dylann Roof, the white gunman accused of killing nine Black parishioners at a Charleston, South Carolina, church in June 2015.
The assault sparked reactions on social media from groups such as Anonymous, who also called for donations to go toward Stafford's jail commissary account.
Roof, 22, was outside his cell and getting ready to shower at the North Charleston jail where he is being held when the assault occurred, Charleston County Sheriff Al Cannon confirmed on Thursday.
Cannon said he did not know what motivated the 25-year-old inmate Dwayne Stafford, who is Black, to punch Roof a number of times in the face and back. Officials were unaware of any verbal exchanges between the two inmates in the past, he said.
Prosecutors have said Roof's attack on the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in June 2015 was racially motivated. However, Roof's attorney told reporters that they will not be pressing charges against Stafford for the incident.
Cannon said his office will investigate how Stafford was able to exit his cell, which should have been locked while Roof was showering.
Prosecutors have charged Roof with dozens of offenses in both state and federal courts, including murder and hate crimes, and could face the death penalty. The federal trial is set to begin Nov. 7.
Court records filed by prosecutors in federal court in July said Roof used eight Glock handgun magazines and fired about 80 rounds during the massacre which he had plotted for months.
Roof's attorneys argued in U.S. court papers filed this week that he should not face the federal death penalty, which they deemed "cruel and unusual punishment" as well as unconstitutional – a stance consistent with Delaware's recent ruling that federal executions have no constitutional basis.