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Governor demands death penalty for Charleston shooting suspect

South Carolina governor has called for the execution of Dylann Roof, charged with nine murders at a black church in Charleston. The Department of Justice is investigating if the shooting falls under 'domestic terrorism.'

Governor of South Carolina Nikki Hailey told NBC's "Today" show that the suspect in the Charleston shooting, which left nine dead, should be executed.

"This is an absolute hate crime," Haley said on-air.

"We will absolutely want him to have the death penalty. This is the worst hate that I've seen and the country has seen in a long time," the governor added.

South Carolina last executed a person by lethal injection in 2011 during Haley's first year as governor. The southern state last executed a prisoner by electric chair in 2008.

Dylann Roof is accused of entering the historical Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church and

opening fire on the congregation during a Bible study

.

The suspect's family expressed "shock, grief, and disbelief as to what happened that night."

"We have all been touched by the moving words from the

victims' families offering God's forgiveness

and love in the face of such horrible suffering," said a statement from the family.

Hate crime or domestic terrorism?

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) announced on Friday that it would be investigating the matter to decide whether the event was a hate crime or domestic terrorism.

"The department is looking at this crime from all angles, including as a hate crime and as an act of domestic terrorism," DOJ spokeswoman Emily Pierce said.

"This heartbreaking episode was undoubtedly designed to strike fear and terror into this community," Pierce noted

'Killed by gun violence'

Meanwhile, US President Barack Obama told mayors in the Californian city of San Francisco that the

issue of gun control

needed to be addressed by the nation.

"More than 11,000 Americans were killed by gun violence in 2013 alone," Obama told the crowd of officials.

"At the very least we should be able to about this issue as citizens. Without demonizing all gun owners who are overwhelmingly law abiding, but also without suggesting that any debate about this involves a wild-eyed plot to take everybody's guns away," the US president said.

Obama attempted to pass legislation curbing access to guns following the deadly mass shooting at a school in Newton, which left 26 people dead including 20 children. However, the proposed legislation was blocked by Congress.

"We have the capacity to change, but we have to feel a sense of urgency about," Obama said.

ls/sgb (AFP, AP, dpa)

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