Charleston Church Murders
December 10, 2016

On Friday, prosecutors played in court an FBI video of the confession of Dylann Roof, the self-described white supremacist who is on trial for murdering nine people at Charleston's Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in June of last year.

"I went to that church in Charleston and I did it," Roof says in the tape, laughing as he confesses. "Did you shoot them?" an officer asks. "Yes," Roof answers, laughing again. He said his motive was "to agitate race relations" and that though he "had to do it" he does not feel "glad" about his actions.

The clip sees Roof estimate he killed five people, and he says he did not speak to the victims before opening fire, though he sat through about 15 minutes of a prayer meeting internally debating whether to go through with his plan. "I was sitting there thinking if I should do it or not," he recalls. "I could have walked out. I don't want to say it was spur of the moment." Bonnie Kristian

November 26, 2016

A judge ruled Friday that Dylann Roof, the 22-year-old white man accused of killing nine people in a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina, last year, is mentally fit to stand trial. "After carefully considering the record before the Court, the relevant legal standards, and the arguments of counsel, the Court now finds and concludes that the Defendant is competent to stand trial," wrote Judge Richard Gergel.

Roof has been indicted on 33 counts for the murderous attack, which he is believed to have planned in an effort to increase racial tensions in America. Read the judge's full ruling below. Bonnie Kristian

August 2, 2016

On Monday, lawyers for Dylann Roof filed a challenge to the federal death penalty. Roof is accused of killing nine people in a shooting spree at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, last June.

In the motion, the defense attorneys argued the federal death penalty itself, which the Justice Department is seeking against Roof, "constitutes a legally prohibited, arbitrary, cruel, and unusual punishment prohibited by both the Fifth and Eighth Amendments."

Roof's lawyers said they filed the motion because Roof's offer to plead guilty was rejected. That offer was withdrawn in the motion filed Monday. Roof, 22, is charged with 33 federal offenses, including hate crimes. Becca Stanek

May 24, 2016

The U.S. Department of Justice announced Tuesday it will pursue capital punishment for Dylann Roof, the white man accused of killing nine black churchgoers during a service at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. The DOJ released a list of reasons why it will seek the death penalty, including Roof's "lack of remorse" and the fact that the killings were "racially-motivated" and "intentional." Roof faces 33 federal charges from the June 2015 incident, including hate crimes and obstruction of religion. Kimberly Alters

July 13, 2015

A county jail employee entering incorrect information into a South Carolina arrests database allowed alleged Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof to buy the gun apparently used in the attack, The Associated Press reports. The error was corrected two days after Roof was arrested Feb. 28 on charges of drug possession, Lexington County Sheriff Jay Koon said Monday, but the correction wasn't sent to the State Law Enforcement Division, which the FBI uses for gun purchase background checks.

Before an examiner conducting the background check could get ahold of the arrest record, a waiting period had elapsed, and the purchase went through. The FBI said last week that given his previous drug possession charge, Roof should not have been able to buy a gun.

Roof faces charges of fatally shooting nine people in a historically black church. Julie Kliegman

July 10, 2015

Dylann Roof, who is accused of fatally shooting nine people last month in a historically black Charleston church, should not have been able to purchase a gun, the FBI said Friday. Because of a loophole in the system, the people who conducted Roof's background check did not have access to a police report indicating previous drug possession, which potentially would have prevented him from purchasing a .45-caliber handgun.

"We are all sick this happened," FBI Director James Comey said. “We wish we could turn back time." Julie Kliegman

June 26, 2015

President Obama delivered the eulogy and led a singing of "Amazing Grace" in Charleston, South Carolina, in remembrance of state Senator and Rev. Clementa Pinckney, one of nine killed last week in the Emanuel AME Church shooting. "Blinded by hatred, the alleged killer could not see the grace surrounding Rev. Pinckney and that Bible study group," Obama said.

Obama also praised the nation's response to the removal of Confederate flags, saying, "It's true a flag did not cause these murders... but for too long we were blind to the pain it caused."

As expected, Obama also used the eulogy to call for gun control reforms, expressing that gun violence inflicts a "unique mayhem" on the nation that only "sporadically" opens our eyes. Obama insisted the nation not return to a comfortable silence after the attacks. "Clem understood that justice grows out of recognition," Obama said.

Obama has offered statements before following gun-related violence in Tucson, Arizona; Newton, Connecticut; Fort Hood, Texas; and Aurora, Colorado. "At some point, we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence doesn't happen in other advanced countries... with this frequency," he said in a statement last week. Jeva Lange

June 26, 2015

President Obama delivered a eulogy for the late Rev. Clementa Pinckney on Friday in Charleston, South Carolina. Pinckney, who also served South Carolina as a state senator, was killed along with eight others in a shooting at the Emanuel AME Church last week that is being investigated as a hate crime.

During Obama's stirring eulogy, he broke out his smooth baritone for a rendition of "Amazing Grace." He was quickly joined by the rest of the congregants:

"Clementa Pinckney found that grace," Obama said after the song, finishing off with a preacher-like acknowledgement of the eight other victims. "May grace now lead them home." Kimberly Alters

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