Criminal Justice

Suspect in Charleston church massacre is indicted on federal hate-crime charges

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Dylann Roof

Photo of Dylann Roof from the Berkeley County Government Twitter account.

Already facing South Carolina murder and attempted murder charges over a shooting massacre that killed nine people last month at a historic black church in Charleston, suspect Dylann Roof has now been indicted as well in a federal hate-crime case over the shootings.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the 33-count indictment Wednesday during a Washington, D.C., press conference. Along with hate-crime charges, Roof is charged with killing while obstructing religious freedom, a crime eligible for the death penalty, according to the New York Times (reg. req.). The Charleston Post and Courier, NBC News and the Washington Post (reg. req.) also have stories.

“Roof conceived his goal of increasing racial tensions and seeking retribution for perceived wrongs that he believed African-Americans have committed against white people,” Lynch said. “To carry out these twin goals of fanning racial flames and exacting revenge, Roof further decided to seek out and murder African-Americans because of their race.

“Racially motivated violence such as this is the original domesticated terrorism.”

If convicted, Roof could potentially be sentenced to death, but Lynch has not yet decided whether to seek capital punishment in the federal case.

It isn’t clear how the state and federal cases, which were described by Lynch as parallel prosecutions, will interface.

“Met with welcome by the ministers of the church and its parishioners, he joined them in their bible study group,” Lynch said. “The parishioners had Bibles. Dylann Roof had his .45-caliber Glock pistol and eight magazines loaded with hollow point bullets.”

The articles don’t include any comment from defense counsel.

Related coverage: “Hate-crime investigation launched after suspect captured in Charleston church shooting” “Background-check flaw let Charleston church-massacre suspect buy a gun, FBI chief says” “Charleston shooting trial set for 2016; judge extends gag order despite media objections”

Updated at 5:50 p.m. to clarify charges.

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