Prosecutor to Seek Death Penalty for Charleston Church Shooter Dylann Roof

dylann-roof

A South Carolina prosecutor filed court documents Thursday seeking the death penalty for the man accused of killing nine black churchgoers in a June shooting rampage, multiple media outlets reported Thursday.

Charleston prosecutor Scarlett Wilson scheduled a news conference for later Thursday to discuss the case.

In the documents,  prosecutors cited aggravating factors that included multiple deaths and the fact that additional lives were put at risk, the Associated Press reported.

Dylann Roof, 21, is charged with nine counts of murder for the attack at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston. The victims had gathered for an evening Bible study, and Roof apparently joined them for several minutes before he drew a gun and began shooting.

Survivors told police that Roof, who is white, shouted racist epithets during the massacre. Roof reportedly told at least one survivor that she was letting her live so she could tell others what happened.

The church’s pastor and a state senator, the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, was among those killed.

Roof also faces federal hate crime charges. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, when she announced the charges in July, alleged that Roof sought to ignite racial tensions across the nation by attacking an iconic, predominantly black church because of its local and historical significance.

Lynch said Roof followed an extremist ideology in pursuit of a “goal of increasing racial tensions throughout the nation and seeking retribution for perceived wrongs he believed African Americans had committed against white people.”

After the shooting, photos of Roof with Confederate flags went viral. The attack and the link to the flag spurred Gov. Nikki Haley to ask the state Legislature fora bill removing the Confederate battle flag from Statehouse grounds. The battle flag in one version or another has flown at the Statehouse for more than 50 years, going up in 1961 to recognize the 100th anniversary of the Civil War and staying up the following year as a protest of the civil rights movement.

After emotional debate, the Legislature agreed it should go. It was removed in a brief ceremony July 10.

SOURCE: John Bacon
USA TODAY

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