FBI asks federal court to dismiss civil suit by S.C. church shooting widow

CHARLESTON, S.C., Oct. 17 (UPI) — The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation doesn’t believe it bears any responsibility for the deaths of nine people at a South Carolina church last year, over the claims of a wife of one of the victims.

The FBI last week filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought against the federal agency by Jennifer Pinckney, wife of late Emanuel AME Church pastor and state lawmaker Clementa Pinckney, which accuses the bureau of negligently allowing the gunman to buy the firearm used in the June 2015 shootings.

Investigators say the suspected gunman, Dylann Roof, shot and killed nine people during the attack. He is now awaiting capital murder cases at both the state and federal level.

RELATEDAugust: Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof attacked in jail

Pinckney’s suit seeks compensation from the government for personal injuries, emotional distress and loss of consortium.

The FBI argues in the motion that the U.S. District Court of Charleston, S.C., lacks “subject-matter jurisdiction” in the case and the suit should be thrown out.

Roof, 22, applied to buy the handgun on April 11, 2015, and initiated the mandatory background checks for the purchase. At the end of the three-day waiting period, though, the FBI had not received the necessary information to deny the sale and the weapon was given to Roof.

Pinckney argues that a prior drug arrest for Roof should have barred the sale and, thus, the federal agency is liable for the shootings.

The FBI argues that poor record-keeping in a South Carolina state database prevented its agents from obtaining what they needed to deny the purchase.

RELATEDSeptember: Jury selection starts in federal case against accused shooter Roof

If authorities can’t deny a gun sale by the end of the waiting period, dealers are allowed by law to complete the purchase. The FBI says that’s what happened in this case — that agents didn’t get the information they needed in time, due to record-keeping that it had no part of.

“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 FBI’s motion states.

The federal trial against Roof is scheduled to begin next month and the state trial early next year. If convicted, Roof could be executed.

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