Dylann Roof pleads not guilty to Charleston shooting

The suspect in last month’s mass shooting in Charleston, S.C., reportedly pleaded not guilty on Friday, a new report says.

Dylann Storm Roof, 21, entered the plea while facing 33 federal criminal charges for allegedly attacking a church on June 17, according to The Charleston Post and Courier.

Roof was initially indicted on July 22 for his suspected role in the death of nine congregants at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

ADVERTISEMENT

He was charged with 12 counts under hate crime laws, another 12 under civil rights provisions protecting freedom of religion and nine for using a firearm for murder.

The newspaper said Roof initially wanted to plead guilty to the hate crime charges on Friday morning.

His attorneys could not advise him on those counts, it said, given the federal government is undecided on whether it is seeking the death penalty.

A magistrate thus entered Roof’s plea as not guilty, it added, noting that he can change his plea at a later date.

Roof additionally faces 13 state charges relating to murder, attempted murder and firearms crimes.

He is accused of entering Emanuel AME Church on June 17 and killing nine worshippers there.

Roof allegedly uttered racial epithets before opening fire on the predominantly African-American congregation.

Rev. Norvel Goff, Emanuel AME Church’s interim pastor, expressed relief on Friday over the formal legal process beginning after the incident.

“The process has started,” he said, according to the Post and Courier.

“This is a long journey, but we are committed to the task to make sure justice is done,” Goff added.

Rev. Clementa Pinckney, a South Carolina state lawmaker and Emanuel AME Church’s former pastor, was one of the victims in last month’s attack.

Last month’s shooting sparked a national debate over displays of the Confederate flag.

ADVERTISEMENT

Roof reportedly displayed the emblem on his car’s license plate.

South Carolina removed a Confederate battle flag from its state Capitol grounds in Columbia following the attack.