Charleston Shooting Suspect Dylann Roof Indicted On Hate Crime Charges
Prosecutors have filed Federal hate crime charges against 21 year-old Dylann Roof, the young man suspected of murdering nine people at Charleston, S.C.’s Emanuel AME church last month. According to The New York Times, Roof already faces nine counts of murder in state court, but Justice Department and F.B.I. officials have asserted that “the Charleston shooting was so horrific and racially motivated that the federal government must address it.”
Roof has also been charged with killing someone while obstructing religious freedom, and could face the death penalty if convicted for all, some, or perhaps even just one of the many indictments lodged against him. The Times also reports that the state of South Carolina does not have a hate crimes law on its books, but “federal officials have said they believe that a murder case alone would leave the racial component of the crime unaddressed.”
NBC reports that a total of 33 counts have been filed against Roof, who on June 17th opened fire in the middle of a bible study at the Emanuel church, fatally wounding nine people before fleeing the scene. In the days following the atrocity, racist messages written by Roof were uncovered online, along with images of him posing with a Confederate flag and other symbols of white supremacy and bigotry.
The Federal Justice Department may delay its hate crimes trial of Roof until after South Carolina prosecutors have finished with their case against the Charleston suspect. “Under federal law,” The Times notes, “a hate crime does not, by itself, carry a possible death sentence.