DOJ Announces Hate Crime Probe into SC Church Shooting

By Melanie Arter | June 18, 2015 | 11:32am EDT
U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch (AP Photo)

( – Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced Thursday that a federal hate crimes investigation has been launched into Wednesday night’s shooting at a historic black church in South Carolina.

“The Department of Justice has opened a hate crime investigation into this shooting incident. The FBI, ATF, U.S. Marshal Service, Civil Rights Division, and the U.S. Attorney’s office are working closely with our state and local partners, and we stand ready to offer every resource, every means, and every tool that we possess in order to locate and to apprehend the perpetrator of this barbaric crime,” said Lynch.

Nine people – six females and three males - were killed in what authorities have characterized as a hate crime. The suspect, identified as 21-year-old Dylan Roof, allegedly told a survivor that he had to shoot the victims, saying, “You rape our women and you’re taking over our country,” according to what a survivor’s cousin told MSNBC.

“Acts like this one have no place in our country and no place in a civilized society, and I want to be clear: the individual who committed these acts will be found and will face justice,” said Lynch. “As we move forward in this matter, my thoughts and prayers and those of our entire law enforcement community here at the Department of Justice and around the country are with the families and loved ones of the victims in Charleston.

“Even as we struggle to comprehend this heart-breaking event, I want everyone in Charleston and everyone who has been affected by this tragedy to know that we will do everything in our power to help heal this community and make it whole again,” she said.

“I encourage the people of Charleston, South Carolina, and the wider area to continue circulating the photos of the alleged perpetrator and report any tip no matter how small, no matter how minor to the tip line, which can be reached at 1-800-CALL-FBI,” Lynch added.

Shortly after Lynch’s announcement about the hate crimes probe, she said Roof was arrested in Shelby, N.C.

“Now that we do have someone in custody, we will conducting as full and as thorough an investigation arising out of that circumstance, building on the cooperative work that we have with our state and local partners in South Carolina,” she said.

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