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Charleston Church Shooting

Dylann Roof’s Gun Purchase Helped by Clerical Error

FBI: Roof Shouldn't Have Been Able to Buy Gun Used in Massacre 2:21

A jailhouse clerical blunder was one of several oversights that permitted Dylann Roof to buy the weapon he used to gun down nine people in a South Carolina church last month, authorities said Monday.

Months before the shooting, Roof had been arrested on a felony drug charge by a Columbia Police Department officer. He was detained at the Lexington County Detention Center in February, but a clerk mistakenly listed the Lexington Sheriff's Department as the arresting agency, a statement from the sheriff's department said.

A Lexington County corrections officer noticed the mistake two days after Roof's arrest and changed the records to list the Columbia Police Department as the arresting agency, but the change was only internal, according to the statement. And when Roof wanted to buy the .45-caliber Glock handgun in April, the FBI had to call the Lexington Sheriff's Department to find out where he was arrested.

The FBI said Friday that the confusion caused a delay that allowed the three-day mandatory waiting period for gun purchases to expire and led to Roof acquiring the .45-caliber Glock handgun.

Sources with knowledge of agency operations said the FBI, when they noticed the error, could have still asked the ATF to get the gun back from Roof, but it doesn't appear that request was ever made.

Related: Mistakes in Dylann Roof's Background Check Fuel Gun Law Debate

The Lexington Sheriff's Department also said that after Roof's arrest, a check of the charging document "determined that he had been charged under a different subsection of a South Carolina drug law." The department did not say if that error had any bearing on his gun purchase.

The Lexington County Sheriff's Office said they reviewed booking procedures and made technological changes to make sure the correct arresting agency is listed in a file.

"We are all sick this happened," FBI director James B. Comey said Friday. "We wish we could turn back time."