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Federal Prosecutors Will Seek the Death Penalty for Charleston Church Shooter Dylann Roof

"The nature of the alleged crime and the resulting harm compelled this decision," said Attorney General Loretta Lynch.

by Helen Donahue
May 24 2016, 10:30pm

Dylann Roof's April 26, 2015 booking photo from the Columbia Police Department.

READ: What Racist Skinheads in Prison Think About Dylann Roof

The US Justice Department just got on board with South Carolina prosecutors' decision to seek the death penalty for confessed mass shooter Dylann Roof, according to a statement released by Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch on Tuesday.

Roof was indicted for 33 federal crimes for a killing spree at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston in June 2015 that resulted in the death of nine parishioners. He was officially charged with a hate crime a month following the shooting and nine counts of murder in the state of South Carolina.

"Following the department's rigorous review process to thoroughly consider all relevant factual and legal issues, I have determined that the Justice Department will seek the death penalty," Lynch said. "The nature of the alleged crime and the resulting harm compelled this decision."

The shooting was deemed both a hate crime and an "obstruction of persons in the free exercise of religious beliefs," but before Tuesday the Justice Department had not decided whether to send Roof to death row, consequently postponing Roof's trial several times.

The now 22-year-old's explanation for the shooting was that he wanted to cause a "race war," according to law enforcement officials who spoke to the media last year.