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Press Release

Federal Jury Sentences Dylann Storm Roof to Death

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of South Carolina

Contact Person: Lia Bantavani,, 704-277-4259

CHARLESTON, S.C. – U.S. Attorney Beth Drake of the District of South Carolina announced today that after three hours of deliberation, a federal jury in Charleston sentenced Dylann Storm Roof, 22, to death. On Dec. 15, 2016, the same jury had convicted Roof of 33 counts of federal hate crimes, obstruction of religious exercise, and firearms charges, for killing and attempting to kill African-American worshipers at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, also known as “Mother Emanuel.”

District Judge Richard M. Gergel of the District of South Carolina presided over the trial and will hold the formal sentencing on January 11, 2017, at 9:30 a.m.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division; Special Agent in Charge Alphonso Norris of the FBI’s Columbia Division; Chief Mark Keel of South Carolina’s Law Enforcement Division (SLED); and Chief Gregory G. Mullen of the Charleston Police Department join U.S. Attorney Drake in making today’s announcement.

“Motivated by racist hatred, Dylann Roof murdered and attempted to murder innocent African-American parishioners as they worshiped in the historic Mother Emanuel church,” said U.S. Attorney Drake. “But, contrary to Roof’s desire to sow the seeds of hate, his acts did not tear this community apart. Instead of agitating racial tensions as he had hoped, Roof’s deadly attack inside Mother Emanuel became an attack on all of us, and the community stood in solidarity. Now, following a trial, the jury has rendered a sentence that underscores the severity of his crimes. We here in the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Department of Justice want to express our condolences to the victims and their loved ones, and to commend the dedication and hard work by the jury, the law enforcement officers that worked the case, the victim advocate team, and the court to ensure a fair and just process.”

“I would like to take this opportunity to highlight the outstanding cooperative effort of our FBI Special Agents and professional support staff; our local and state partners – the Charleston Police Department and the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division; and the United States Attorney’s Office, which began on the horrific night of June 17, 2015,” said Special Agent in Charge Norris. “Their excellent work has brought about, what we hope, is another step toward healing for the families of the victims and the Charleston community.”

Following the guilty verdict, the sentencing phase of the trial began on January 4, 2017. Today, the jury sentenced Roof to death on all eighteen capital counts, including nine counts of obstruction of exercise of religion resulting in death (one count for each victim killed in the attack), and nine counts of use of a firearm to commit murder during and in relation to his hate crimes and obstructions of religious exercise (one count for each of the nine victims).

In making today’s announcement, U.S. Attorney Drake also thanked the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the U.S. Marshal’s Service; the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office; the Charleston Fire Department; the Shelby Police Department; and the Ninth Circuit Solicitor’s Office for their invaluable assistance over the course of the investigation.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jay Richardson and Nathan Williams of the District of South Carolina, Deputy Chief Richard Burns of the Justice Department’s Capital Case Section and Special Litigation Counsel Stephen Curran and Trial Attorney Mary Hahn of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

Updated January 26, 2017

Civil Rights