Families Of Charleston Shooting Victims Share Powerful Words Of Forgiveness At Dylann Roof's Bond Hearing — VIDEO
At a court appearance on Friday, Charleston Emanuel AME Church shooting suspect Dylann Storm Roof was charged with nine counts of murder and one for weapons possession. Despite the charges, family members of the victims forgave him, according to various reports. A YouTube video of the court hearing reveals the victims' family members delivering emotional messages to Storm, letting him know that despite the pain he's caused them, they forgive him.
After confessing to shooting and killing nine people in the Charleston, South Carolina church Wednesday night because he wanted to start "a race war," according to officials, Storm appeared in court on Friday, where he faced his victims' family members via a live video screen. He remained expressionless as grieving family members delivered emotional statements to him.
The messages began with a statement from the daughter of victim Ethel Lance, who told Roof:
I forgive you. You took something very precious away from me. I will never talk to her again. I will never be able to hold her again. But I forgive you.... You hurt me. You hurt a lot of people, but God forgives you, and I forgive you.
A family member representing victim Myra Thompson, Anthony Thompson, gave a similar message:
I forgive you and my family forgives you, but we would like you to take this opportunity to repent ... and confess.
Felicia Sanders, mother of victim Tywanza Sanders, said:
We welcomed you Wednesday night in our Bible study with open arms.... Every fiber in my body hurts, and I will never be the same.... Tywanza was my hero. But as we say in Bible study, we enjoyed you, but may God have mercy on you.
Alana Simmons, granddaughter of Reverend Daniel Simmons Sr., told Storm:
Although my grandfather and the other victims died at the hands of hate, this is proof — everyone's plea for your soul is proof — that they lived in love ... so hate won't win.
Reverend Depayne Middleton Doctor's sister delivered an angry and impassioned message, but ultimately she also forgave him.
For me, I'm a work in progress, and I acknowledge that I am very angry, but one thing that Depayne has always joined in my family with is that she taught me that we are the family that love built. We have no room for hate, so we have to forgive.
The victims' families' overall message that hate cannot win references the nature of the attack, which officials are investigating as a hate crime. A friend of Storm's has also backed up the claim, telling ABC News that Storm "wanted something to spark up the race war again." If Storm is prosecuted for committing a hate crime, he could face the death penalty.
Watch the emotional video below.
Image: Les Grossman New Official Channel/YouTube