In a meeting with reporters on Friday, FBI Director James Comey said that Dylann Roof, who is accused of killing nine people in a church shooting on June 17, should not have been able to purchase a firearm. A breakdown in the FBI’s background check system allowed Roof to purchase a .45 caliber handgun on April 11, days after he turned 21, and use it to murder nine people in Charleston’s historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.
“This case rips all of our hearts out, but the thought that an error on our part is connected to a gun this person used to slaughter these people is very painful to us,” Comey told The Washington Post.
In February, Roof was arrested at a Columbia shopping mall and charged with possessing a narcotic—Suboxone, a substance sometimes used to treat heroin addiction. The arrest made Roof ineligible to purchase a firearm through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. According to the FBI, an examiner missed Roof’s admission of drug possession during the arrest.
Comey further indicated that the information regarding the arrest may have not been properly entered in the FBI database, but nonetheless, the agency will be conducting a 30-day review of the incident.
“We are all sick this happened,” he told NBC News. “We wish we could turn back time.”
Roof is now in custody and has been charged with nine counts of murder. Federal authorities are considering treating the mass shooting as a hate crime. All nine victims were African American and Roof’s former roommate described the shooter as a proponent of segregation and other racist views.
Roof has also been charged with three counts of attempted murder. You can learn more in the video below: