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Dylann Roof found competent to stand trial in church shootings

USA TODAY USA TODAY 25/11/2016 Tonya Maxwell
Dylann Roof faces 33 federal charges related to nine deaths in the June 2015 shootings. © Associated Press Dylann Roof faces 33 federal charges related to nine deaths in the June 2015 shootings.

Dylann Roof, the white man accused of killing nine African-Americans in a Charleston church has been declared competent to stand trial.

Judge Richard Gergel  made the declaration around 9:30 a.m. Friday.

The jury selection is scheduled to begin Monday.

Roof, 22, has been federally indicted on 33 counts related to nine murders in the June 2015 killings, some of those charges drawing on hate crime laws.

Authorities say he walked into a Wednesday night Bible study at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church and opened fire.

With the shootings, Roof intended to boost racial tensions, according to federal officials.

Instead, the shooting left the nation aghast that worshippers were slaughtered in a house of God and touched off questions about “lone wolf” shooters, race relations and the nature of forgiveness.

South Carolina lawmakers answered by ridding its statehouse grounds of the Confederate flag.

Roof has offered to plead guilty to all 33 counts, but federal officials are seeking the death penalty.

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