JULY 22, 2015
WASHINGTON — Dylann Roof, the man suspected of killing nine people at a historically black church in Charleston, S.C., last month was indicted on Wednesday on federal hate crime and other charges, including some that carry the federal death penalty, two law enforcement officials said on Wednesday.
Mr. Roof, 21, already faces nine counts of murder in state court and could face the death penalty there. But Justice Department and F.B.I. officialshave said the Charleston shooting was so horrific and racially motivated that the federal government must address it.
He was also charged with killing someone while obstructing religious freedom, which is eligible for the death penalty.
South Carolina does not have a hate crimes law, and federal officials have said they believe that a murder case alone would leave the racial component of the crime unaddressed.
A grand jury was expected to return a federal indictment on Wednesday afternoon. It was not immediately clear how that indictment would affect the state prosecution. The Justice Department has the option to delay its case and wait to see how the state case ends before deciding whether to proceed with a second trial. Under federal law, a hate crime does not, by itself, carry a possible death sentence.
Authorities have linked Mr. Roof to a racist Internet manifesto and said he was in contact with white supremacist groups before his attack on the Emanuel A.M.E. Church. He was photographed holding a Confederate flag and a handgun.
“I have no choice,” the manifesto reads. “I am not in the position to, alone, go into the ghetto and fight. I chose Charleston because it is most historic city in my state, and at one time had the highest ratio of blacks to Whites in the country. We have no skinheads, no real KKK, no one doing anything but talking on the Internet. Well someone has to have the bravery to take it to the real world, and I guess that has to be me.”
Survivors said that Mr. Roof arrived at the church as worshipers gathered for a Wednesday night Bible study group. “You are raping our women and taking over our country,” Mr. Roof said to the victims, all of them black, before killing them, witnesses told the police.
The shooting sparked fresh national debate over the symbolism of the Confederate flag. South Carolina lawmakers responded by removing the flag from the State House grounds.