More charges for Charleston church accused

  • 08/07/2015
Dylann Roof (Reuters)
Dylann Roof (Reuters)

South Carolina prosecutors have announced additional charges against a 21-year-old white supremacist accused of killing nine blacks in an historic Charleston church.

In addition to nine previously announced counts of murder, Dylann Roof is now also charged with three attempted murder charges related to survivors of the June 17 massacre at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

The new charges were announced by the South Carolina district prosecutor for Charleston, Scarlett Wilson on Tuesday (local time).

"We have been in constant contact" with local and state police, as well as the federal Department of Justice, Wilson said in a statement.

"We will continue to analyse and evaluate the evidence in this case."

A grand jury has indicted Roof on all the murder and attempted murder charges, as well as one count of possession of a weapon during a violent crime, Wilson said.

Roof was arrested in North Carolina the day after nine African Americans were shot and killed as they attended an evening Bible class.

He is currently in solitary confinement outside Charleston, pending trial, and South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley has said she favours the death penalty if he is convicted.

A website attributed to Roof contains racist language as well as photographs of the suspect brandishing firearms and a Confederate flag.

He only spoke to identify himself when he appeared at a bail hearing where devout Christian relatives of the dead - who included Emanuel's chief pastor, state senator Clementa Pinckney - expressed forgiveness.

Police have said that Roof, who allegedly hoped to ignite a race war, left some members of the Bible study class alive so they could describe what he did.

The survivors of the Charleston church massacre include an 11-year-old girl, her 57-year-old grandmother and a 70-year-old church trustee.