US seeking death penalty in Charleston church massacre case

This photo provided by Charleston County Sheriff's Office shows Dylann Roof, Thursday, June 18, 2015. Roof, 21, was arrested Thursday in the slayings of several people Wednesday, including the pastor, at a prayer meeting inside The Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C. (Charleston County Sheriff's Office via AP)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department intends to seek the death penalty against Dylann Roof, the man charged with killing nine black parishioners last year in a church in Charleston, South Carolina.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch made the announcement Tuesday.

In a brief statement, Lynch said: “The nature of the alleged crime and the resulting harm compelled this decision.”

She also said the department had considered “all relevant factual and legal issues.”

Roof is awaiting trial on federal hate crime charges in connection with the June 17 shooting at Emanuel AME Church, which contributed to a national conversation about race relations and also led to the removal of a Confederate battle flag from the South Carolina Statehouse.

Roof is also charged with nine counts of murder in state court, and South Carolina prosecutors have already announced plans to seek the death penalty when he stands trial next year.

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