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Florist who helped police find Charleston suspect: It was 'divine intervention'

by Eun Kyung Kim /  / Updated  / Source: TODAY

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A North Carolina florist who helped police track down South Carolina shooter Dylann Roof on Thursday told TODAY she felt "divine intervention" put her in the right place at the right time.

Debbie Dills was driving to work when she noticed a car on the road that made her suspicious. After calling her boss, Todd Frady, who advised her to call the police, Dills then followed the car to try to take down the driver's license plate information.

"I was nervous, I was scared, I’m normally not that kind of person, and I got back on the bypass to go see just if I could get a tag number, just to see — just had a feeling and I'm sure that was divine intervention,” she told TODAY. “I feel like God has his hand in it and that he had me where I needed to be.”

Authorities say Roof, 21, has confessed to the killings. He was due in court Friday to face charges of fatally shooting nine people while they prayed Wednesday night in the historic Emanuel AME Church in Charleston.

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said the ferociousness of the crime was stunning.

“This is an absolute hate crime… Without question this is hate,” she told TODAY, adding that she plans to pursue the maximum penalty against the suspect.

“We will absolutely will want him to have the death penalty. This is the worst hate that I’ve seen and the country has seen in a long time,” she said. “We will fight this and we will fight this as hard as we can.”

While President Obama told the nation Thursday that it must soon face up to its history of gun violence, Haley said her role is to focus on the individual action.

“Any time, there’s a traumatic situation, people want something to blame. They always want something to go after,” she said. “There is one person to blame here, a person filled with hate. A person that does not define South Carolina, and we are going to focus on that one person.”

She said she also wants to focus on the helping the families of the victims heal. Those families were what Dill had in mind while nervously following Roof in her car.

"They were on my heart and my mind heavy, I just was praying for them and hoping it would help them to find a little peace in such a terrible horrific situation," she said.

Although she is being hailed as a hero for her actions, Dill tried to deflect the praise.

"It wasn't me, it was God. He used me as a vessel. If anybody's a hero it is him," she said. "It was through him that everything happened. Happened for a reason. The people there were praying, and they need to know and I know they know today that God heard their prayer."

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