In the wake of the Charleston church shooting in South Carolina, two particular phrases have been used in the media to describe the attack — “hate crime” and “terrorist act.” Soon after the initial reports of the tragedy, the authorities threw both around when discussing the matter with reporters, sometimes letting their emotions get the better of them. That is, what Dylann Roof did was terrible, but until the official investigation is complete, the use of either descriptor won’t be completely accurate.
But that hasn’t stopped FBI Director James Comey from discounting the use of “terrorism” and “terrorist act” to describe Roof’s crimes. At a press conference in Baltimore on Saturday, Comey said that the agency was currently investigating whether or not Roof committed a hate crime, but not terrorism:
“Terrorism is act of violence done or threatens to in order to try to influence a public body or citizenry so it’s more of a political act and again based on what I know so more I don’t see it as a political act.”