Dylann Roof, charged in the June shooting deaths of nine Charleston churchgoers, received hate crime charges in addition to murder charges, firearms charges, and obstructing the practice of religion charges on Wednesday.
Totaling 33 charges total, a grand jury has made Roof, 21, eligible for the death penalty, The Associated Press reported.
U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the charges Wednesday. Because South Carolina has no state hate crimes law, she said, federal charges were brought because the defendant "decided to seek out and murder African-Americans because of their race."
Roof has appeared in pictures waving Confederate flags, and the indictment offers as evidence of his motivation a personal manuscript in which he criticized racial integration, used racial slurs, and said explicitly that blacks were inferior to whites.
Prosecutors will seek to show that Roof sought to increase racial tensions to the point of a race war with his alleged criminal actions.
Lynch said Roof is now eligible for the death penalty, but added that the Justice Department will consult the families of the victims in its consideration of pursuing it, as some families have expressed forgiveness toward Roof.
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