US church shooter found guilty, could face death penalty

Charleston (US): Dylann Roof, the self-described white supremacist who gunned down nine African American parishioners at a historic church in Charleston last year, has been found guilty of all charges, and could now face the death penalty.

A federal jury in the southern US port city found the 22-year-old Roof guilty on 33 counts yesterday, including hate crimes resulting in death and hate crimes involving an attempt to kill.

Three people survived the shooting spree in a Bible study group at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church on June 17, 2015 – a massacre that shocked the nation, and exposed the deep divides in America over race and access to guns.

Roof said in a taped confession that he carried out the attack in retaliation for alleged crimes committed by black people against whites.

Jurors needed only two hours to reach their verdict.

The trial now moves on to the sentencing phase, in which Roof has elected to represent himself.

Prosecutors made their closing arguments earlier in the day.

“Hold him accountable for every one of his actions. Find him guilty of all counts of this indictment,” federal prosecutor Nathan Williams urged the jury.

“He executed them because he believed they were nothing more than animals,” Williams said. “His actions in the church are the best reflections of the vastness of his hatred.”

Roof is also facing state murder charges in South Carolina, though that trial is not due to begin until January 17. State prosecutors also are seeking the death penalty.