Dylann Roof poses for a photo while holding a Confederate flag
AP
By Julia Zorthian
July 10, 2015

Dylann Roof, who allegedly shot and killed nine people last month in a Charleston, S.C. church, was able to buy his gun due to an error in the national background check system.

Since Roof had previously admitted to felony drug possession, he should not have been allowed to buy the .45-caliber handgun, the New York Times reported Friday. Yet Roof slipped through a hole in the F.B.I.-operated National Criminal Instant Background Check System due to an information disconnect between police departments and counties, CNN reported.

“We’re all sick this happened,” F.B.I. Director James Comey said to reporters on Friday.

Previous accounts alleged that Roof had received a gun as a birthday gift from his father, and was therefore not subject to the background check. More recent reports indicated he had bought a .45-caliber Glock pistol himself, despite the felony narcotics charge. This latest announcement from the F.B.I. explains how the incomplete background check enabled Roof’s purchase.

Roof has been charged with murder for the June 17 shooting of nine people at the Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston.

[NYT]

Read next: South Carolina’s Confederate Flag Comes Down

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Write to Julia Zorthian at julia.zorthian@time.com.

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