Dylann Roof guilty of South Carolina church killings

Dylann RoofImage copyright

Image caption

Roof said he wanted to start a race war

A white supremacist has been convicted of killing nine black worshippers in a church in South Carolina in a racially motivated attack.

Twenty-two-year-old Dylann Roof was found guilty of federal hate crimes and now faces the death penalty.

Jurors also found him guilty of obstructing the exercise of religion for those he shot after sitting with them in a Bible study.

The attack at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church shocked the nation.

And it also reignited a debate about race relations and the flying of the Confederate flag.

Roof was photographed holding the battle flag, which was used by the South in the American Civil War and to many has become associated with the support of slavery.

The tragedy led to the flag being removed from the South Carolina statehouse, where it had flown for 50 years.

At a memorial service for the victims, President Barack Obama sang Amazing Grace and gave one of his most significant speeches on race.

Media captionBarack Obama leads congregation in singing the hymn Amazing Grace

In a videotaped FBI confession, Roof was seen laughing and making sweeping gun motions as he described the attack.

He told investigators he wanted the world to know he hated black people and thought they were criminals.

Roof said he carried out the massacre after studying “black on white crime” online, and chose a church because his victims would be unlikely to threaten him.

Media captionUS church gunman: ‘I did it’

As the verdict was read out, and all 33 counts were followed by “guilty”, he stared ahead.

Relatives of victims held hands and squeezed each other, while one woman nodded her head in affirmation as the clerk said “guilty” for each count.

Jurors will reconvene next month to hear more evidence and decide whether Roof will receive the death penalty or life in prison.

Defence lawyer David Bruck conceded Roof committed the murders but said he was a suicidal loner who did not realise the full extent of what he had done.

Moments after the verdict, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley released a statement saying she hopes the families of the nine victims, and the survivors, can find some peace.

She pushed to remove the Confederate flag from the grounds of the statehouse, after the picture emerged of Roof embracing the flag.

More on the shootings

Image caption

The victims, clockwise from top left: Rev Clementa Pinckney, Susie Jackson, Rev Sharonda Singleton, Tywanza Sanders, Rev Daniel Simmons, Depayne Middleton-Doctor

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Dylann Roof guilty of South Carolina church killings

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