FBI: Confusion, errors in arrest record paved way for suspect's gun purchase

VIDEO: FBI: Confusion, errors in arrest record paved way for suspect's gun purchase

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The Federal Bureau of Investigation says confusion over who arrested the suspect in the Charleston church shooting on a drug charge allowed him to purchase the gun two months before the shooting.

Dylann Roof, 21, was arrested the day after the June 17 shooting at the Mother Emanuel AME Church and charged with nine counts of murder and a weapon charge.

The FBI says the background check that could have stopped Roof from buying a gun from Shooter's Choice in West Columbia back in April was delayed because it listed the wrong arresting agency.

But the arrest report doesn't just list the wrong agency, it also lists the wrong charge.

The FBI says their examiner didn't get Roof's correct arrest record until after the shooting had happened.

The FBI's response set the tone for the debate over Roof's gun purchase.

"I think we need to look at the fact that it's not about time, it's about technology," Gov. Nikki Haley said. "If someone has a charge, it should go in a database and should be shown immediately to anyone who's looking at it."

But the charge the FBI saw initially isn't the actual drug charge Roof received.

In a statement released Monday by the Lexington County Sheriff's Office affirming the FBI's information about a clerical error, the agency also revealed the initial drug charge Roof received in February was also incorrect.

The sheriff's office denied an interview request but did clarify that Roof was not charged with a felony, as his arrest reports initially showed.

Instead, he was facing a lesser misdemeanor drug charge that could only net six months in prison.

According to federal gun laws, that charge isn't strong enough to ban Roof from purchasing a gun.

We reached out to the FBI with questions about their background checks, but a response was not immediately received.

The other big question regarding these back ground checks is whether a record is kept of any errors, changes, or discrepancies. The South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division says it doesn't keep such records, adding that is a federal responsibility.

Roof has since been charged with three counts of attempted murder in the shooting at Mother Emanuel AME, according to the Ninth Circuit Solicitor's Office.

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