The Justice Department is pushing for a death sentence for the white man accused of murdering nine black people at a historic church in Charleston, South Carolina last year, an incident that dredged up a host of issues involving racism and guns.

“Following the department’s rigorous review process to thoroughly consider all relevant factual and legal issues, I have determined that the Justice Department will seek the death penalty,” said U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch in a statement Tuesday. “The nature of the alleged crime and the resulting harm compelled this decision.”

In court documents, prosecutors involved in the case cited two offenses that carry a possible death sentence. They include obstruction of exercise of religion by force resulting in death, and use of a firearm to commit murder during and in relation to a crime of violence.

“Dylann Storm Roof has expressed hatred and contempt towards African Americans, as well as other groups, and his animosity towards African Americans played a role in the murders charged in the indictment,” reads the seven-page document.

The document adds that Roof targeted men and women participating in a Bible-study group at the Emanuel AME Church in order to magnify the societal impact of the offenses.”

Last June, Roof attended a prayer service at the Emanuel AME Church in downtown Charleston and after an hour sitting with congregants, he opened fire. Roof was arrested the next morning at a traffic stop about 150 north, in Shelby, North Carolina. He later confessed…

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