March 24 (UPI) -- Wrongful death lawsuits alleging the FBI was negligent in dealing with Dylann Roof's background check can proceed, a federal judge ruled.
Roof, a self-proclaimed white supremacist, was convicted of 33 hate-related crimes in December in the 2015 attack on an African-American church in Charleston. Nine people died in the rampage.
The plaintiffs say the FBI failed to manage its own database or perform a proper background check on Roof when he purchased a Glock .45-caliber handgun and applied for a background check; a prior arrest, for possession of medication without a prescription, should have eliminated him from purchasing the weapon.
A month after the church massacre, FBI Director James Comey publicly admitted a failure in completing Roof's background check, blaming incomplete and inaccurate paperwork. An incorrect arresting agency was listed on Roof's record, and the background check was not completed within the three-day waiting period.
The federal government sought a motion to dismiss the wrongful death cases.
In a 14-page order allowing the cases to proceed, U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel noted Thursday that "The FBI apparently gave up its attempt to learn about Roof's purportedly felonious drug arrest, and it took no action to prevent Roof from being allowed to purchase a handgun. The FBI cast aside the case, leaving it in a 'Delayed' status, and so, on April 16, 2015, Roof was permitted to purchase his Glock. Two months later, on June 17, 2015, he used it to murder nine parishioners, and to attempt to murder three others, in an attack on Mother Emanuel [African Methodist Episcopal] Church in Charleston, South Carolina."
Gergel ruled that arguments in the wrongful death case are "sufficiently plausible at least to survive a motion to dismiss," allowing it to move forward.