Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.

 

'You are Satan' - Relatives of slain churchgoers confront gunman for last time

12 January 2017, 13:01

Charleston - One by one, family members of nine slain black parishioners confronted Dylann Roof for the last time on Wednesday, shouting at him, offering forgiveness and even offering to visit him in prison as he awaits execution for the slaughter.

The 22-year-old avowed white supremacist, who was formally sentenced to death, refused to meet their gaze and simply stared ahead, his head tilted down slightly as it had been for much of his trial.

"Dylann," Janet Scott said quietly as she started speaking. "Dylann! DYLANN!" she said, her voice rising. Toward the end of her remarks, she said, "I wish you would look at me, boy."

Scott, an aunt of 26-year-old Tywanza Sanders, the youngest victim killed in the massacre, demanded that Roof look at her as she talked about her nephew's "great big heart," which could not be donated because of the police investigation.

Forgiveness and anger

The final statements came a day after jurors sentenced an unrepentant Roof to death. The gunman had one final opportunity to ask for mercy but instead told jurors he still "felt like I had to do it."

Although family members testified at Roof's trial, the formal sentencing hearing was intended gave them a chance to speak directly to him, without prosecutors or the judge interrupting or asking questions.

Roof also had an opportunity to speak but declined to say anything. He is the first person ordered executed for a federal hate crime.

US District Judge Richard Gergel said, "This hate, this viciousness, this moral depravity, will not go unanswered."

Some of the relatives looked directly at Roof. Others chose to look at jurors, who did not have to be in court on Wednesday but told the judge they wanted to attend.

Sheila Capers, the sister-in-law of Cynthia Hurd, said she prayed for Roof's soul to be saved.

"If at any point before you are sentenced and you're in prison and you want me to come and pray with you, I will do that," Capers said.

Felicia Sanders, who survived the attack, said she forgave Roof, echoing comments she made after the shooting. But, she noted, Roof did nothing to save himself.

He served as his own attorney during the sentencing phase and never explained the massacre or asked for his life to be spared.

Sanders brought the bullet-torn, bloodstained Bible she had with her on the night of the June 17, 2015. She told Roof he still lives in her head, and that when she hears a balloon pop or fireworks, it returns her to that night.

"Most importantly, I can't shut my eyes to pray," Sanders said.

'You are Satan'

On the night of the shooting, Roof sat through a 45-minute Bible study session at the black church known as Mother Emanuel with 12 others. He opened fire as they stood and closed their eyes for a final prayer. In all, he fired 77 shots. Each victim was hit at least five times.

Three people survived. Roof told one of them he was sparing her life so she could tell the world he was killing the worshippers at Emanuel AME because he hated black people.

The willingness of some of the relatives to forgive the gunman was widely discussed in the days after the killings. But that did not mean they felt his life should be spared. And there are others who said forgiveness is still a work in progress.

"You are Satan. Instead of a heart, you have a cold, dark space," Gracyn Doctor, the daughter of DePayne Middleton-Doctor, said, expressing hope that Roof would "go straight to hell."

When he was arrested, Roof told FBI agents that he wanted the shootings to bring back segregation or perhaps start a race war.

Instead, the slayings had a unifying effect as South Carolina removed the Confederate flag from its Statehouse for the first time in more than 50 years. Other states followed suit, taking down Confederate banners and monuments. Roof had posed with the flag in photos.

The jury convicted Roof last month of all 33 federal charges he faced. He insisted he was not mentally ill and did not call any witnesses or present any evidence.

- AP

NEXT ON NEWS24 NIGERIAX
&nbps;

Read more from our Users

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Separating kitchen politics from ...

Like everyone else, I believe that the most popular definition of democracy is “government of the people, by the people and for the people”. Read more...

Submitted by
Bethel Tanifo
Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, ...

Like NDDC Unlike MONDA. This notion is an intuition that does not portend political participation, affiliation, intrusion or aggression but a submission with the intention of completion of the previous administration's noble vision. Read more...

Submitted by
Bethel Tanifo
Nigerian Constitution versus Corr...

The problems of Nigeria is not in its conventional composition, formation, functionality, constitution or treaty, while the solutions are not disintegrations as promulgated by some faiths fanatics and bigotries.  Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Much Ado about Trump’s Presidency

It was unbelievable when the social and mainstream media all over the world began airing the breaking news of Donald Trump’s victory in the most contentious US Presidential elections in recent years. Read more...

Submitted by
Mike Daemon
Nigerian author highlights gay ch...

A new novel by a prolific young Nigerian author features gay characters, which could help increase the visibility of the gay community and possibly lead to greater understanding of LGBT Nigerians. Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Your Excellency, I will call you ...

Your Excellency, Governor Adams Oshiomhole, as a leader that pays attention to details, I understand that the odd title of this piece would definitely arouse your curiosity.  Read more...