Dylann Roof, the white man charged with massacring 9 black church members in Charleston, was beaten by another inmate in jail on Thursday.
Roof, 22, is housed in solitary confinement for his own protection at the Charleston County Detention Center awaiting trial. The beating took place while Roof was showering alone at 7:45 a.m.
After Roof was led into the showers by guards, a black inmate named Dwayne Stafford rushed down the stairs from his cell and punched Roof in the face.
Roof bruised his neck and his back during the assault, according to a police report obtained by Channel 2 News.
Roof was examined by the jail's medical staff and returned to his cell.
He declined to press charges against Stafford, 26, who is awaiting trial on unrelated first-degree assault and strong-armed robbery charges.
Jail officials are investigating how Stafford managed to squeeze between a narrow vertical opening in his cell to get to Roof on the first floor of an area reserved for federal and high-security prisoners.
Cell doors in the area can only be opened by jail guards from a central control room.
Roof was led into the shower area Thursday morning by two guards. One guard then went to take toilet paper to another inmate. The 2nd guard went on a break, leaving Roof alone at the time of the beating.
Charleston County Sheriff Al Cannon blamed "complacency" by the jailers who left their VIP inmate unguarded.
"It seems to me pretty obvious at this point that at the very least we have complacency," Cannon told reporters. "We do things day-in and day-out and they become routine."
Cannon refused to speculate on whether the attack was racially motivated.
"There is nothing that I am aware of beyond the obvious speculation that we would all have, given the nature of the situation. But nothing specific," he said.
Cannon did not specify if the guards were still employed by the jail.