The Justice Department agreed Thursday to pay $88 million to victims of a racially motivated shooting at a historic Black church in South Carolina — a substantial but also symbolic figure meant to compensate for a background-check failure that allowed the killer to buy a weapon.

A lawyer for the victims, Bakari Sellers, said the figure was particularly meaningful because the number 88 is significant among white supremacists like gunman Dylann Roof, who was convicted on federal hate crimes charges and sentenced to death.

Photos of Roof before the shooting show him wearing a shirt with the number 88. He also brought 88 bullets with him to Mother Emanuel AME Church the day of the 2015 massacre. White supremacists use 88 as a code for “Heil Hitler,” because “H” is the eighth letter of the alphabet.

Roof killed nine people attending Bible study at Mother Emanuel, in Charleston, S.C., and later told investigators he wanted to start a race war.

Eliana Pinckney, who was just 11 years old when her father, Rev. Clementa Pinckney, was killed in the shooting, spoke Thursday morning outside Justice Department headquarters, where the agreement in principle was reached.

“They can’t bring my father back, that’s never going to happen, but they’re doing whatever they can to acknowledge the fact that this hurts,” she said. “ . . . To see the government acknowledge the fact that racism still exists, and how prevalent it is in our community, and then actively try to combat it in every way that they can, and to acknowledge that gun violence is an issue and to do everything they can to correct a mistake . . . is so important.”

After the shooting, the then-director of the FBI, James B. Comey, said errors in the background check process had allowed Roof to buy the weapon, when he should have been rejected. Comey said the case “rips all of our hearts out.”

At the time, federal officials said the breakdown was a result of errors not only by the FBI but also apparently by local law enforcement.

Months before the shooting, Roof had been arrested for possession of narcotics, a charge that on its own did not disqualify him from buying a gun. But Roof’s subsequent admissions to police about drug use would have triggered an automatic rejection of his gun purchase if the information had been found during the background check.

An FBI examiner assigned to review Roof’s purchase never saw his confession, in large part because the background check records did not accurately reflect the specific local police department that arrested him, and the examiner ended up contacting the wrong department.

Unable to find a copy of Roof’s arrest report, the person doing the background check did not block the purchase, officials have said.

A district court judge initially ruled that the victim families did not have legal grounds to sue the government for those failures, but that finding was overturned by a federal appeals court.

Under the settlement terms agreed to Thursday, the payments will be split among relatives of the dead and those wounded in the shooting, with the families of those killed getting $6 million to $7.5 million per claimant, and survivors getting $5 million.

The agreement must still be finalized in court.

The FBI did not admit fault as part of the settlement, but said in a statement: “We in the FBI, like everyone in the country, were horrified by the senseless act of violence and today we continue to grieve with the families whose pain remains fresh from this unspeakable tragedy that took place more than six years ago.”

Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement that since the day of the church shooting, the Justice Department “has sought to bring justice to the community, first by a successful hate crime prosecution and today by settling civil claims.”

After his arrest, Roof confessed to the shooting, laughing at times as he recounted what he did. He later wrote in a jailhouse journal: “I would like to make it crystal clear, I do not regret what I did. . . . I am not sorry. I have not shed a tear for the innocent people I killed.”