White supremacist Dylann Roof who shot dead nine African-Americans in church faces federal hate crime charges
The white man charged in South Carolina with the murders of nine African-Americans at a historic Charleston church last month will face federal hate crime charges, media outlets reported on Wednesday, citing U.S. law enforcement sources.
The federal charges against Dylann Roof are expected to be made public later on Wednesday, according to National Public Radio. The New York Times also reported the pending federal charges.
Representatives of the Justice Department could not be reached immediately to confirm the reported hate crime charges.
Roof, 21, has already been charged with nine counts of murder in state court in Charleston in the June 17 shooting. If found guilty, he could face the death penalty. He also faces three counts of attempted murder.
The Justice Department has been investigating the shooting as a possible hate crime.
South Carolina is among the few U.S. states without hate crime laws on the books.
Following the massacre, a website linked to Roof surfaced containing a racist manifesto, showing him in photos posing with Confederate flags, a banner from the American Civil War widely considered a symbol of slavery.
The shooting spree at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church prompted South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley and national leaders to call for legislation to remove the Confederate battle flag from the state capitol grounds in Columbia, where it had flown for more than 50 years.
Less than a month later, the banner came down to the delight of those who view it as a symbol of the South's pro-slavery past and nostalgia for the region's segregationist era. Supporters of the flag insist it is not racist but an honorable tribute to Southern culture and the sacrifice of Confederate soldiers killed in the American Civil War of 1861-65.