According to agency officials and a news release on Thursday, the Justice Department has agreed to pay $88 million to families and survivors of the 2015 deadly church shooting in Charleston, S.C., due to a failure in its gun background check system. A federal jury sentenced White supremacist Dylann Roof to death in January 2017 after he openly admitted to killing nine people at the historic Black church Mother Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church during a bible study. A month before the sentencing, the jury convicted him on 33 federal charges, including hate crimes.

The 21-year-old Roof was arrested for a felony drug offense in Lexington County, S.C., a few months before he purchased the Glock 41 semi-automatic pistol used to kill nine people on June 17, 2015. Court records show that an examiner for the FBI’s background check system failed to contact the arresting agency for an incident report, which would have blocked him from purchasing the gun from Shooter’s Choice in West Columbia, S.C.  About a year ago, a federal judge ruled that a federal agent failed to follow the FBI’s system for conducting background check ruled under the Brady Act, which denies gun purchases to someone with a felony allowing lawsuits by family members and survivors to proceed.

The settlement in the lawsuit against the illegal gun purchase will provide $63 million for family members of the victims and $23 million for survivors. South Carolina state Sen. Clementa Pickney, 41, who was also a church pastor, Cynthia Hurd, 54; Tywanza Sanders, 26, Myra Thompson, 59; Ethel Lance, 70; Susie Jackson, 87; DePayne Middleton Doctor, 49; Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, 45; and Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr., 74, all died in the 2015 shooting.

Editorial credit: Katherine Welles /

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