Charleston church shooting suspect facing federal, state charges

VIDEO: Church shooting suspect to face federal judge Friday
Dylann Roof, suspected gunman in the shooting deaths of nine people at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston (Photo source: Charleston County Sheriff's Office)
Dylann Roof, suspected gunman in the shooting deaths of nine people at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston (Photo source: Charleston County Sheriff's Office)

CHARLESTON, SC (AP/WCSC) - The suspect in the Mother Emanuel AME Church shooting is scheduled to face a federal court judge Friday.

Dylann Roof will be arraigned on federal charges announced on July 22 by U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch at the U.S. Court House in Charleston at 11 a.m.

The arraignment was originally scheduled for Monday, but was delayed after requests from both the government and Roof's defense attorneys. An arraignment is a formal reading of criminal charges so that the defendant is made aware of the charges he or she faces.

Lynch said a federal grand jury in Charleston indicted Roof on 33 federal hate crime and weapons charges, bringing the total number of charges against him to 46.

View the federal indictment against Roof here:

"As set forth in the indictment, several months prior to the tragic events of June 17, Roof conceived of his goal of increasing racial tensions throughout the nation and seeking retribution for perceived wrongs he believed African Americans had committed against white people," Lynch said at a news conference on July 22.

Roof faces nine murder counts and three attempted murder counts under the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which prohibits using a dangerous weapon to cause bodily injury or attempting to do so based on race or color, she said.

He is also charged with nine murders and three attempted murders under a second federal hate crime statute that prohibits the use or threat of force to obstruct any person's free exercise of their religious beliefs.

The remaining nine counts are charges of the use of a firearm to commit murder during and in relation to a crime of violence, the federal indictment states.

"As alleged, Roof set forth the evening of June 17, 2015 to carry out this plan and drove to the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, known as 'Mother Emanuel,'" Lynch said.

She said the church was Roof's destination "specifically because it was a historically African-American church of significance to the people of Charleston, of South Carolina and the nation."

"On that summer evening, Dylan Roof found his targets: African-Americans engaged in worship. Met with welcome by the ministers of the church and its parishioners, he joined them in their Bible study group," Lynch said. "The parishioners had Bibles. Dylann Roof had his .45 caliber Glock pistol and eight magazines loaded with hollow-point bullets. And as set forth in the indictment, while the parishioners of Mother Emanuel were engaged in religious worship and Bible study, Dylann Roof drew his pistol and opened fire on them, ultimately killing nine church members."

Federal officials previously said the shootings meet the legal requirements for a hate crime and that federal charges were likely. Roof, who is white, appeared in photos waving Confederate flags and purportedly wrote of racial violence.

"We have here a defendant who is alleged to have harbored discriminatory views toward African-Americans, to have sought out an African-American house of worship, one that was particularly noted because of its age and significance and he also sought out African-American parishioners at worship, implicating several hate crimes statutes," Lynch said.

Lynch would not elaborate on why investigators believe Roof sought out the specific church for those reasons, citing the ongoing investigation.

"It is important to note, however, that South Carolina does not have a hate crimes statute, and as a result, the state charges do not reflect the alleged hate crimes offenses presented in the federal indictment returned today," Lynch said.

Roof was also indicted on state charges including nine counts of murder, three counts of attempted murder and one count of possessing a weapon during the commission of a violent crime.

Neither federal nor state prosecutors have said whether they will seek the death penalty.

Trial set to begin July, 2016

Roof last faced a judge on July 16 when he was presented with the charges against him. Judge J.C. Nicholson set a trial date of July 11, 2016.

Roof was arrested in connection with the shooting the day after the incident in Shelby, North Carolina after a citizen recognized the car he was driving from descriptions released by police that morning.

State Sen. and the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, the church's pastor, was killed in the shooting, along with Tywanza Sanders, the Revs. Sharonda Singleton, DePayne Middleton Doctor, and Daniel Simmons Sr.; and Cynthia Hurd, Myra Thompson, Ethel Lance, and Susie Jackson.

Copyright 2015 WCSC. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.