The murders of nine black church members in Charleston, South Carolina, is to be investigated by the US Justice Department as both a hate crime and act of domestic terror.

Dylann Roof, the suspected terrorist, has been charged with nine counts of murder for the massacre at a historic black South Carolina church.

Emily Pierce, a Department of Justice spokeswoman, said the investigation is ongoing.

“This heartbreaking episode was undoubtedly designed to strike fear and terror into this community, and the department is looking at this crime from all angles, including as a hate crime and as an act of domestic terrorism,” the statement read.

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