WASHINGTON — The gunman who killed nine people at a South Carolina church in June plotted his attack for months, choosing his target because it was a nationally known historically black church, Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch said on Wednesday as she announced federal hate crime charges against him.
The man charged in the case, 21-year-old Dylann Roof, is also accused of killing people while obstructing religious freedom, a charge that carries a possible death sentence, though Ms. Lynch said the Justice Department had not decided whether to seek it.
“He was looking for the type of church and the type of parishioners whose death would in fact draw great notoriety for his racist views,” Ms. Lynch said.
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 well-known Emanuel A.M.E. Church, which has hosted many major civil rights leaders, including the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Mr. Roof already faces nine counts of murder in state court and could face the death penalty there. But Justice Department and F.B.I. officials have said the Charleston shooting was so horrific and racially motivated that the federal government must address it.
Source: The New York Times, Matt Apuzzo, July 22, 2015
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