The U.S. Justice Department will seek the death penalty against Dylann Roof, the 22-year-old man accused of killing nine people at a prayer meeting inside a South Carolina church last summer.
“The nature of the crime and the resulting harm compelled this decision,” Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in a statement released Tuesday.
Roof’s professed hatred of blacks and his lack of remorse influenced the decision, federal authorities said.
He was indicted last summer on 33 federal charges, including hate crimes, using a firearm in the commission of a crime and violating the victims’ constitutional rights to practice their religion.
He sat in the Bible group at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church for an hour before opening fire last June, officials said.
He also faces nine murder charges and three attempted murder charges in state court, where prosecutors have said they will also pursue the death penalty. That trial is scheduled to begin in January.
The federal trial date has not been selected.
A website registered by Roof was discovered after the shootings, authorities said, and contained a “manifesto” of racist and white supremacist views. Roof allegedly wrote he felt compelled to open fire in the AME church because of its history in the black community.