The Justice Department is seeking the death penalty against alleged Charleston church massacre shooter Dylann Roof. Roof is accused of killing nine people last June at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C.
U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch made the announcement Tuesday, releasing the following statement:
21-year-old Roof was charged in July and later indicted for federal hate crimes. He received 33 federal charges, including charges for nine murders, three attempted murders, and weapons.
"This is the archetype of the original domestic terrorism," Lynch said during the announcement of the federal hate crimes charges. "Several months prior to the tragic events, Roof conceived his goal of increasing racial tensions and seeking retribution for perceived wrongs that he believed African-Americans have committed against white people."
Roof attended a bible study at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church before he allegedly shot and killed three men and six women with a .45 caliber handgun.
After speaking to a survivor, a victim's cousin told NBC News that Roof spoke to the victims before the shooting, saying, "I have to do it. You rape our women and you are taking over our country. And you have to go."
Roof's attorney David Bruck didn't immediately respond to Complex's request for comment.
Steve Hurd, who lost his wife Cynthia in the Charleston Church Massacre, is in favor of the Justice Department’s decision to pursue the death penalty against Dylann Roof.
"What would give me full closure would be if I were the one who pushed the plunger on the lethal injection, or if I were the one to pull the switch on the electric chair or if I was the one to open the valve on the gas chamber,” Hurd told the Associated Press. He added that he'll only receive closure when: "Roof's body is cold, sleeping in the ground—that's closure."