Days after FBI director James Comey said he did not think the Charleston attack that left nine dead qualified as terrorism, FBI officials now say they have not ruled out investigating the shooting as a terrorist act. FBI Spokesman Paul Bresson told MSNBC that depending on the evidence uncovered by federal investigators, the agency would be open to pursuing domestic terrorism charges, as opposed to just the hate crime charges as originally suggested.
“Both hate crime and domestic terrorism investigations afford investigators the same set of tools and techniques,” Bresson said Wednesday. “Any eventual federal charges will be determined by the facts at the conclusion of the investigation, and are not influenced by how the investigation is initially opened.”
On Saturday Comey said that he wouldn’t classify as terrorism the massacre that left nine people, including a South Carolina state senator, dead in a historic black church last week. Over the weekend, a white supremacist manifesto believed to be written by shooting suspect Dylann Roof surfaced online.
“Terrorism is an act of violence done or threatened to in order to try to influence a public body or the citizenry so it’s more of a political act and again based on what I know so more I don’t see it as a political act,” Comey said.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton called it such Tuesday in a remarks in Florissant, Missouri, not far from the St. Louis suburb where black, unarmed teenager, Michael Brown was shot by a white cop last summer.
“How do we make sense of such an evil act? And act of racist terrorism, perpetrated in a house of God?” she said.