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Federal public defenders have been appointed to represent Dylann Roof in connection with the shooting deaths last week at an African-American church in South Carolina — an indication that federal charges could be filed in addition to nine state murder counts.
A U.S. magistrate's judge in Charleston named two members of the public defender's office to represent Roof this week, citing a separate investigation the Justice Department opened after the shootings at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. Roof, 21, hasn't yet been charged with a federal crime, but U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch has said federal authorities are investigating the shootings as a possible hate crime.
All of the nine victims were black. Friends have said Roof wanted to start a race war and do something "for the white race."
A federal law enforcement official told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity that Justice Department officials are in agreement that the shootings meet the definition of a hate crime. South Carolina doesn't have a state hate crimes law.