A grand jury indicted Dylann Roof on nine counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder following last month’s attack on an African American church in Charleston, South Carolina, the prosecutor said Tuesday.
Mr. Roof had already been charged with the nine murder counts by state warrants, plus one of possessing a weapon during the commission of a violent crime. The three new attempted murder charges were brought to the grand jury on behalf of three people who survived the shooting, prosecutor Scarlett Wilson said in a statement.
Roof reportedly entered Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church the evening of June 17 and opened fire, killing nine black people.
Authorities are investigating a racist manifesto on a website that almost certainly belonged to Roof. The site – called The Last Rhodesian, in homage to the ideals of white supremacy and apartheid associated with the country that is now Zimbabwe – features photos of Roof and an explanation of what he called his racial “awakening.”
Dan Murphy of the Christian Science Monitor wrote,
The pictures tell a story of their own, and one far beyond his affection for white-ruled southern Africa.
Roof, his scrawny arms sometimes poking out of a Gold's Gym singlet, other times wearing a shirt emblazoned with "88" (a popular number among neo-Nazi’s since "h" is the eighth letter of the alphabet – code for "Heil Hitler") and at others wearing his jacket with the flags of apartheid Rhodesia and South Africa, appears to have been touring sites connected to slavery and the Confederacy.”
In one of the photos, Roof poses holding a Confederate flag. The connection between the flag and his racially motivated crime breathed new life into a South Carolina debate over the role of the flag that had been simmering for years.
A wave of support for the flag’s removal from the South Carolina capitol grounds has faced resistance from those who see the flag as a sign of Southern pride, not of racism, and by a 2000 law preventing the flag from being displaced.
At Gov. Nikki Haley (R)’s urging, the South Carolina senate voted almost unanimously in favor of a bill to remove the flag Tuesday morning. The bill’s next move will be to the House for debate and a vote.
This report contains material from Reuters.