by Frederick H. Lowe
White terrorist Dylann Storm Roof, who massacred nine African-American men and women during Bible study at a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina, has been indicted by a federal grand jury for hate crimes, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced on Wednesday.
The grand jury returned a 33-count indictment against Roof, charging him with federal hate crimes and firearms charges for killing and attempting to kill black parishioners at Mother Emanuel African Methodist Church on June 17.
South Carolina does not have a hate crimes law. Roof, who confessed to the slaughter, is charged with nine counts of murder in South Carolina.
Roof sat in the Bible study for an hour before pulling out a 45-caliber Glock pistol with eight magazines fully loaded with hollow point bullets. He began firing, killing and wounding parishioners because they were black and because he wanted to interfere with the exercise of their religion, Lynch said.
“The federal indictment returned today charges Roof with nine murders and three attempted murders under the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act,” Lynch said. “This federal hate crimes law prohibits using a dangerous weapon to cause bodily injury, or attempting to do so, on the basis of color. The Shepard Byrd Act was enacted specifically to vindicate the unique harms caused by racially motivated violence.”
Lynch said Roof’s goal was to increase racial tensions nationwide and seek retribution for perceived wrongs he believed African Americans had committed against white people.
He faces either life in prison or death.