FBI to pay millions after failing to stop Dylann Roof from obtaining gun used in mass shooting
Dylann Roof

The U.S. government will pay out tens of millions as part of an "agreement in principle" to settle lawsuits over the fatal 2015 mass shooting at the Mother Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

"These settlements will resolve claims by 14 plaintiffs arising out of the shooting. Plaintiffs agreed to settle claims alleging that the FBI was negligent when it failed to prohibit the sale of a gun by a licensed firearms dealer to the shooter, a self-proclaimed white supremacist, who wanted to start a 'race war' and specifically targeted the 200-year-old historically African-American congregation," the Department of Justice announced Thursday. "For those killed in the shooting, the settlements range from $6 million to $7.5 million per claimant. For the survivors, the settlements are for $5 million per claimant."

In 2016, Dylann Roof was convicted of 33 federal charges for the mass shooting.

"The families of the Emanuel Nine, as well as the five survivors who were inside the church at the time of the shooting, sued the government. They sought to recover for wrongful death and physical injuries arising from the shooting. Plaintiffs asserted that the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Checks System (NICS) failed to timely discover that the shooter was a person prohibited by federal law from possessing a firearm. Plaintiffs alleged that because of this delay, the shooter was able to purchase the handgun that he used to commit the atrocity," DOJ explained. "The FBI and NICS play a crucial role in combatting gun violence. Since this tragic shooting, the FBI has worked to strengthen and improve the background check process."

Attorney General Merrick B. Garland praised the settlement agreement.

"The mass shooting at Mother Emanuel AME Church was a horrific hate crime that caused immeasurable suffering for the families of the victims and the survivors," Garland said. "Since the day of the shooting, the Justice Department has sought to bring justice to the community, first by a successful hate crime prosecution and today by settling civil claims."