Justice Department To Seek Death Penalty For S.C. Church Shooting Suspect

On Jan. 25, 2015, pallbearers release doves over the casket of Ethel Lance, one of the nine people killed in the shooting at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C. (AP)
On Jan. 25, 2015, pallbearers release doves over the casket of Ethel Lance, one of the nine people killed in the shooting at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C. (AP)

The Justice Department says it will seek the death penalty against Dylann Roof, accused of fatally shooting nine people at a historically black church in Charleston, S.C., in June 2015.

In a statement, Attorney General Loretta Lynch said:

"Following the department's rigorous review process to thoroughly consider all relevant factual and legal issues, I have determined that the Justice Department will seek the death penalty. The nature of the alleged crime and the resulting harm compelled this decision."

The federal hate-crime charges against Roof "center on both the victims' race and their identity as church-goers who were attempting to follow their religious beliefs when Roof attacked," as The Two-Way reported last summer. At the time, Lynch called hate crimes "the original domestic terrorism."

There is a separate case against Roof filed by authorities in South Carolina, NPR's Carrie Johnson notes. Prosecutors in that case are also seeking the death penalty, as The Two-Way reported in September.

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