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The Charleston church shooting, also known as the Charleston church massacre, was an anti-black mass shooting and hate crime that occurred on June 17, 2015, in Charleston, South Carolina. Dylann Roof, a 21-year old white supremacist, shot and killed nine African Americans and injured a tenth during a Bible study at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, a historically black church in Charleston. Among the fatalities was the senior pastor, state senator Clementa C. Pinckney. Emanuel AME is one of the oldest black churches in the United States, and it has long been a center for civil rights organizing.
|Charleston church shooting|
|Part of mass shootings in the United States, domestic terrorism in the United States and racism against African Americans|
|Location||Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church|
|Date||June 17, 2015; 8 years ago (2015-06-17) |
c. 9:05 – c. 9:11 p.m. (EDT)
|Target||African American churchgoers at a church congregation|
|Mass shooting, mass murder, domestic terrorism, right-wing terrorism, hate crime|
|Weapons||Glock 41 .45-caliber handgun|
|Perpetrator||Dylann Storm Roof|
|Verdict||Guilty on all counts|
|Trial||United States of America v. Dylann Storm Roof|
Death (de jure)
9 consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole plus 95 years
The morning after the attack, police arrested Dylann Roof in Shelby, North Carolina; a 21-year-old white supremacist, he had attended the Bible study before opening fire. He was found to have targeted members of this church because of its history and status. Roof was found competent to stand trial in federal court.
In December 2016, Roof was convicted of 33 federal hate crime and murder charges. On January 10, 2017, he was sentenced to death for those crimes. Roof was separately charged with nine counts of murder in the South Carolina state courts. In April 2017, Roof pleaded guilty to all nine state charges in order to avoid receiving a second death sentence, and as a result, he was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. He will receive automatic appeals of his death sentence, but he may eventually be executed by the federal justice system.
Roof espoused racial hatred in both a website manifesto which he published before the shooting, and a journal which he wrote from jail afterward. On his website, Roof posted photos of emblems which are associated with white supremacy, including a photo of the Confederate battle flag. The shooting triggered debates about modern display of the flag and other commemorations of the Confederacy. Following these murders, the South Carolina General Assembly voted to remove the flag from State Capitol grounds and a wave of Confederate monument or memorial removals followed shortly thereafter.
At the time, it was the deadliest mass shooting at a place of worship in U.S. history, paralleling the Waddell Buddhist temple shooting in 1991, in which nine people were also killed, and then superseded by the Sutherland Springs church shooting in Texas in 2017 and the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting in Pennsylvania in 2018. As of 2023[update], it is the deadliest mass shooting in South Carolina history.
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