Orginally Published on Talk Radio News Service July 22nd 2015
Dylan Roof, the 21-year-old, white man that is accused of killing nine African Americans attending church in Charleston, South Carolina faces 33 federal hate crime charges as announced by Attorney General Loretta Lynch in a press briefing Wednesday afternoon.
A federal grand jury indicted Roof on Wednesday for hate crimes, and he could now face life in prison or the death penalty.
In addition to the 9 murder charges and 3 counts of attempted murder charges faced in South Carolina, Roof is also charged with 9 federal counts under The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act.
The DOJ also confirmed that Roof is charged with 9 murders and 3 attempted murders for use or threat of force to obstruct any person from practicing their religious belief. The remaining 11 charges encompass the use of a firearm in racially a motivated murder.
According AG Loretta Lynch, the DOJ has evidence that Roof targeted the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. “Roof decided to seek out African Americans because of their race,” said Lynch. “The parishioners had Bibles. Dylann Roof had his 45-caliber Glock pistol, and eight magazines loaded with hollow-point bullets.”
The DOJ however has not filed domestic terrorism charges noting that “hate crimes are the original domestic terrorism.”
In the aftermath of the massacre, a national debate has raged over the display of the Confederate flag being flown on publicly-funded grounds. South Carolina Nikki Haley has been praised among democrats and republicans for successfully pushing to remove the flag from the Capitol grounds.
Roof can be seen in a photograph holding a Confederate flag and told authorities that he intended to “start a race war” by gunning down the nine parishioners.
Patrice Harris contributed to this report.