Attorneys representing both three survivors and the estates of five victims of the June 2015 Charleston, South Carolina, massacre at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church have initiated a lawsuit against the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The shooter, Dylan Roof, 21 at the time of the crime, is charged with 33 federal charges, nine counts of murder by firearm and 24 counts of hate crimes.
Attorneys representing the survivors and estates of the victims contend the FBI demonstrated negligence for failing to thoroughly investigate Roof’s background and the failing allowed Roof to purchase a .45 caliber gun used in the attack.
The lawsuit alleges if the FBI had properly screened Roof’s background, a March 2015 drug arrest would have appeared on Roof’s record and prohibited his purchase of the weapon used in the mass shooting.
Attorney for the petitioners, Andy Savage, told the AP: “In this case, you had an unqualified purchaser that slipped through the cracks and the result is what happened on June 17.”
Roof’s March drug arrest was initially written as a felony, but was later corrected to represent a misdemeanor; however the error was apparently not corrected in a state database. Roof purchased his firearm one month later.
Following the shooting, the FBI admitted lapses in background check enabled Roof’s purchase of a firearm, but FBI Director James Comey stated the purchase should have been denied and vowed a review of procedures.
Nine worshipers were killed in the massacre, including senior pastor, Clementa Pinckney. Pinckney was also a member of the South Carolina State Senate.