WASHINGTON — Families of nine victims killed in a racist attack at a Black South Carolina church have reached a settlement with the Justice Department over a faulty background check that allowed Dylann Roof to purchase the gun he used in the 2015 massacre.
The $88 million deal — which includes $63 million for the families of the slain and $25 million for survivors of the shooting — was set to be announced Thursday in Washington.
“The mass shooting at Mother Emanuel AME Church was a horrific hate crime that caused immeasurable suffering for the families of the victims and the survivors,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said Thursday. “Since the day of the shooting, the Justice Department has sought to bring justice to the community, first by a successful hate crime prosecution and today by settling civil claims.”
Roof killed nine people at the Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, on June 17, 2015, during a Bible study.
Weeks before the church shooting, Roof was arrested by police in Columbia, South Carolina, on a drug possession charge. But a series of clerical errors and missteps allowed Roof to buy the handgun he later used in the killings.
When Roof purchased the gun, NBC News reports that the FBI examiner conducting the background check was told by deputies in Lexington County, South Carolina, to contact the Columbia Police about the drug charge. However, FBI databases did not have a record for the Columbia Police Department — only the West Columbia Police Department.
The FBI examiner never heard back from Lexington County officials about the clerical error, and Roof was able to purchase the gun after a three-day waiting period.
Roof has since pleaded guilty to multiple charges stemming from the shooting, including nine counts of murder.