Suspect charged with murdering nine offered forgiveness from families of dead

Relatives of people killed in Charleston church address Dylann Roof by video link

Dylann Roof is flanked by police as he appears via video during a bond hearing on nine counts of murder as well as possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime, in Charleston. A growing number of officials are calling for the death penalty. (The New York Times)

Dylann Roof is flanked by police as he appears via video during a bond hearing on nine counts of murder as well as possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime, in Charleston. A growing number of officials are calling for the death penalty. (The New York Times)

 

In an emotional confrontation in Charleston, relatives of people killed in a shooting at a church there directly addressed the suspect in court yesterday, one after another, tearfully offering forgiveness and hope that he would confess and repent.

Dylann Roof was charged with nine counts of murder and possession of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime. The offences could lead to the death penalty

“We welcomed you Wednesday night in our Bible study with open arms,” Felicia Sanders, the mother of one of the victims, Tywanza Sanders, told the suspect.

“You have killed some of the most beautiful people that I know,” said Sanders, who was in the room when the gunman opened fire and survived by pretending she was dead. “Every fibre in my body hurts, and I’ll never be the same. Tywanza Sanders was my son, but Tywanza was my hero.”

But like the others, Sanders, her voice breaking, added, “may God have mercy on you.”

Roof watched impassively on a video link, as the magistrate, James Gosnell, said that by law he could not set bail for Roof on the nine counts of murder.

Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, called the mass killing at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church a hate crime, and added his voice to the call for the death penalty.

It remained to be seen whether state or federal prosecutors will pursue hate crime charges.

“It’s certainly a hate crime,” Graham told the local television station. “These people would not be dead today if they weren’t black.”

US president Barack Obama yesterday called the deaths in the church shooting “senseless murders” and suggested more gun control is needed after the tragedy. – (New York Times)