Charleston Shooter Dylann Roof Faces Hate Crime Charges

Photo by Centralized Bond Hearing Court via AP
Attorney general Loretta Lynch said that Roof targeted the victims because of their race and religion

A federal grand jury has issued a 33-count indictment of hate crimes and firearms charges to Dylann Roof, the shooter who killed nine Black parishioners last month at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

Attorney general Loretta Lynch announced the charges earlier today, concluding that Roof targeted his victims "because of their race and to interfere with the exercise of their religion." It is unclear whether prosecutors will seek the death penalty or life in prison.

"Hate crimes are the original domestic terrorism," Lynch said during her announcement.

Roof was formally indicted on nine counts of murder, three counts of attempted murder and a weapon offense earlier this month.

On June 17, the 21-year-old entered bible study at the historically Black church, where he sat for nearly an hour before opening fire on the worshippers. Nine, including the church's Rev. Clementa Pinckney, were killed in the attack. Roof is currently being held without bond in a South Carolina prison and has a trial date of July 2016.

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