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Charleston church shooting suspect to face death penalty, prosecutor says

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- The white man accused of killing nine black churchgoers during a Bible study will face the death penalty, prosecutors say.

Court documents filed Thursday said prosecutors would pursue the death penalty against Dylann Roof, 21, because more than two people were killed, and that others' lives were put at risk.

During a press conference on Thursday, South Carolina prosecutor Scarlett Wilson announced that the prosecutors would pursue the death penalty.

"This was the ultimate crime and justice from our state calls for the ultimate punishment," Wilson said.

Wilson said some victims and some family members of victims, because of their faith, do not believe in the death penalty under any circumstance. Others believe the death penalty is entirely appropriate.

But she said that forgiveness does not mean foregoing consequences.

In court documents, prosecutors said they intended to present evidence on Roof's mental state, adult and juvenile criminal record and other conduct, as well as his apparent lack of remorse for the killings.

Roof faces state charges including nine murder counts in the June 17 slayings at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. He is expected in court again on those charges in October.

He also faces federal charges including hate crimes and obstruction of the practice of religion, some of which are also eligible for the death penalty in that system.

Charleston and the stain of racial violence

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch has said federal charges were necessary to adequately address a motive that prosecutors believe was unquestionably rooted in racial hate. South Carolina has no state hate crimes law.

In June, a law enforcement source told CBS News' Pat Milton that a .45 caliber gun was found in the car when Roof was arrested during a traffic stop the day after the shooting. Roof purchased the .45 caliber pistol with $400 his father gave him for his birthday, sources said.

Roof is white and appeared in photos waving Confederate flags and burning or desecrating U.S. flags. He purportedly wrote online of fomenting racial violence, and federal authorities have said he used a personal manuscript in which he decried integration and used racial slurs to refer to blacks.

Many people believed the Confederate flag would fly indefinitely in the state of South Carolina, which was the first to leave Union. But the shooting in Charleston changed that sentiment, reigniting calls to bring down Confederate flags and symbols across the nation.

After 54 years, the Confederate flag was removed entirely from the South Carolina Statehouse, in a swift ceremony at the beginning of July, before thousands of people who cheered as the Civil War-era banner was lowered from a 30-foot flagpole.

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