Feds probe Charleston shooting as 'act of domestic terrorism'
© WCSC

Federal officials are investigating the shooting at a historic black church in South Carolina as a potential "act of domestic terrorism" as well as a hate crime.

"The department’s investigation of the shooting incident in Charleston, South Carolina, is ongoing," Justice Department spokeswoman Emily Pierce said in a statement Friday.

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"This heartbreaking episode was undoubtedly designed to strike fear and terror into this community, and the department is looking at this crime from all angles, including as a hate crime and as an act of domestic terrorism," she added. 

Attorney General Loretta Lynch said during a press conference in Washington on Thursday that her department was investigating the case as a potential hate crime, vowing to bring the alleged perpetrator to justice.

“We will be looking at all the facts and motivations, all the things that led this individual, if he is in fact the shooter, to commit this crime," she said, adding officials would determine the best method of prosecution.

Police allege that Dylann Storm Roof, a 21-year-old white man, opened fire during a Bible study Wednesday night at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, killing nine.

Roof, who reportedly confessed to the shooting and said he wanted to provoke a race war, has been in custody since Thursday morning. He made his first court appearance Friday via video from a detention center and faces nine counts of murder as well as a weapons charge. 

— This story was updated at 6:39 p.m.