The FBI filed a motion Friday to dismiss a lawsuit accusing the agency of negligence that paved the way for Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof to buy a handgun.
The lawsuit was filed July by Jennifer Pinckney, wife of the late Clementa Pinckney who was pastor at the Emmanuel AME Church and one of the victims of the massacre.
The agency cited an error in the state records and reasoned that it was hindered by federal and state limits in conducting a background check for Roof’s gun purchase.
Pinckney said the background check on Roof would have shown a drug arrest record, which could have prevented him from buying the gun that he used when he opened fire at the church members.
However, the FBI argued that the agency did not see the record because of wrong information entered into the state’s database.
"The shooting at the Emanuel AME Church was an atrocity of unspeakable proportions. The perpetrator's actions were despicable. But the United States is not liable in tort for the tragic death of plaintiff's decedent,” the agency’s attorneys said in the motion.
A clerk at the Lexington County jail admitted that the agency that supposedly arrested Roof for a drug charge was entered into the database. The input was corrected two days later but wasn’t forwarded to the State Law Enforcement Divison, the division that FBI works with to check records, the Associated Press reported last year.
Because of the mixup, when the agency reviewed Roof’s records, a Lexington County examiner was not able to find the report before the three-day holding period elapsed. The FBI has only three days to conduct background checks.
"While the Brady Act authorizes the FBI to temporarily freeze firearms sales for three business days while it researches whether state or federal law prohibits a particular buyer from possessing a firearm, the FBI has no authority to prevent a sale if, after those three business days have elapsed, it has not yet found definitive information demonstrating that the prospective purchaser's receipt of a firearm would violate federal or state law," the motion said.
Roof is currently in trial for the Charleston church shooting that happened in June 17, 2015. He apparently walked into the Emanuel AME church, which has a predominantly black congregation, while an evening Bible study meeting was taking place. After an hour, he stood up and opened fire.
The shooting left three men and six women dead and many others wounded. One witness said Dylann shouted racist words while shooting, saying things like “You rape our women and you’re taking over our country and you have to go,” The Telegraph reported.