Charleston Shooting Suspect Dylann Roof's Reaction To Victims' Families' Forgiveness Is Chilling — VIDEO
Family members of the nine Charleston church shooting victims gave tearful testimony on Friday during suspected shooter Dylan Roof's bond hearing. The 21-year-old South Carolina man had been arrested and charged with nine counts of murder for his alleged involvement in a terrifying mass killing on one of the state's oldest black congregations on Wednesday evening. Throughout Friday's hearing, Roof's reactions to emotional testimony by the victims' families, many of whom maintained that they had forgiven the suspected killer for his actions, were chilling and aloof.
Statement after statement, each family member stood and offered up poignant testimony of their loved ones while telling Roof that they had been praying for him.
"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," said Felicia Sanders, mother of victim Tywanza Sanders, 26, in a statement to Roof in court on Friday. "But as we say in Bible study, we enjoyed you, but may God have mercy on you."
Several other family members of Wednesday's victims also came forward to offer up their heartfelt testimonies, each explaining their reason for forgiveness to the alleged shooter, who stood handcuffed with two armed guards outside the room. Roof remained unmoved, refusing to make eye-contact with the camera.
At one point during the testimonies, Roof seemed to show a slight break in his otherwise stony-faced demeanor. After Anthony Thompson, a family member of victim Myra Thompson, spoke up, Roof looked at the floor and seemed to swallow nervously.
"I forgive you and my family forgives you," said Thompson. A long silence followed.
Roof, who is white, has been accused of harboring anti-black tendencies and was seen in a recently released Facebook photo wearing a jacket with apartheid-era patches. On Thursday, authorities called his alleged shooting of the nine victims a hate crime.
Despite the tenuous atmosphere and Roof's stoic reactions, the families continued with their compassionate statements.
"Everyone's plea for your soul is that they lived and loved," said victim Reverend Daniel Simmons' granddaughter in court on Friday. "Hate won't win."
Roof was denied bond on all nine murder charges and has been held on $1 million bond for a related gun charge.
View the full video and Roof's reactions below:
Images: Les Grossman/YouTube