FBI Director James Comey said Saturday during a press conference in Baltimore that he wouldn’t label the mass shootings in Charleston, S.C. as “terrorism,” television station KTUL reported.
Nine black people were killed last week at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, a historic black church. Police arrested a white, 21-year-old named Dylann Roof, who apparently had white supremacist leanings, on suspicion of the killings.
Comey, in the conference broadcast by CNN, was asked whether he’d classify the Charleston shootings as an act of terrorism.
“I wouldn’t,” Comey said.
“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.
The FBI’s definition of terrorism is below:
The unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof in furtherance of political or social objectives.
CNN reported that Emily Pierce, a spokeswoman for the Department of Justice, said in a statement that the DOJ would be investigating the shooting as a possible hate crime or “act of domestic terrorism.”
“This heartbreaking episode was undoubtedly designed to strike fear and terror into this community and the department is looking at this crime from all angles including as a hate crime and as an act of domestic terrorism,” the statement read.