Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Charleston Church Shooting Victims Sue FBI over Gun Buy

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Charleston Church Shooting Victims Sue FBI over Gun Buy

Article excerpt

COLUMBIA, S.C. * Survivors of the Charleston church shooting, who say federal negligence enabled Dylann Roof to buy the .45-caliber handgun he used, are suing the FBI.

Lawyers for three people who survived the attack and the estates of five who were slain inside the Emanuel AME Church say the FBI negligently failed to thoroughly check Roof's background before he bought the gun last year.

If the agency had done its job, Roof's prior drug arrest would have shown up, and the bureau would have denied his purchase, the lawsuits filed Thursday allege.

Attorney Andy Savage said Friday that his clients hope the litigation will lead to improvements in gun safety.

"In this case, you had an unqualified purchaser that slipped through the cracks," Savage told The Associated Press. "And the result is what happened on June 17."

Justice Department spokesman Patrick Rodenbush declined Friday to comment on the pending litigation.

The June 17, 2015, shootings by a young white man of nine black parishioners who had welcomed him to their Bible study renewed debates about race relations in the South.

Roof, who posed online with a Confederate flag, had told a friend he intended to kill people at the historic black church to start a race war. The shooting led to the battle flag's removal from many places of honor.

Law enforcement agencies have acknowledged since last summer that mistakes were made involving Roof's April 2015 gun purchase. FBI Director James Comey has said the transaction should have been denied, and he promised a full review.

Lexington County Sheriff Jay Koon told the AP that a jail clerk entered incorrect information for Roof's February 2015 drug arrest, and that while the mistake was noticed within days, it wasn't fixed in a state database.

So when Roof sought to buy the gun two months later, an FBI examiner spotted the arrest but called the wrong agency to get his record. …

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