CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Representatives for the families of some of the nine victims of a fatal shooting at a black church in Charleston addressed shooting suspect Dylann Roof in court just ahead of a bond hearing Friday. Roof appeared via video link and seemed to show no emotion as family members spoke, showing anger, sadness and even forgiveness.
Roof could hear the family members talking but wasn’t able to see them — a fixed camera is trained only on the judge for the hearing.
Chief Magistrate James Gosnell, before calling for statements on behalf of victims
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“Charleston is a very strong community. We have big hearts. We’re a very loving community. We’re going to reach out to everyone, all victims, and we will touch them.”
“We have victims, nine of them. But we also have victims on the other side. There are victims on this young man’s side of the family. Nobody would have ever thrown them into the whirlwind of events that they have been thrown into. We must find it in our heart, at some point in time, not only to help those that are victims but to also help his family as well.”
Gosnell set Roof’s first court date for Oct. 23 and his second for Feb. 5.
Felecia Sanders , mother of Tywanza Sanders:
“We welcomed you Wednesday night in our Bible study with open arms. You have killed some of the most beautifulest people that I know. Every fiber in my body hurts … and I’ll never be the same.”
“Tywanza Sanders was my son, but Tywanza was my hero. Tywanza was my hero. But as we said in Bible study, we enjoyed you but may God have mercy on you.”
Bethane Middleton-Brown, representing family of the Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor:
“DePayne Doctor was my sister. And I just thank you on the behalf of my family for not allowing hate to win. For me, I’m a work in progress and I acknowledge that I’m very angry.”
“But one thing DePayne always joined in my family with is that she taught me we are the family that love built.”
“We have no room for hate. We have to forgive. I pray God on your soul. And I also thank God I won’t be around when your judgment day comes with him.”
Alana Simmons, granddaughter of Daniel Simmons:
“Although my grandfather and the other victims died at the hands of hate, this is proof — everyone’s plea for your soul is proof they lived in love and their legacies will live in love, so hate won’t win. And I just want to thank the court for making sure that hate doesn’t win.”
Anthony Thompson, representing family of Myra Thompson:
“I forgive you, my family forgives you. We would like you to take this opportunity to repent. Repent. Confess. Give your life to the one who matters the most, Christ, so he can change your ways no matter what happens to you and you’ll be OK. Do that and you’ll be better off than you are right now.”
Daughter of Ethel Lance:
“I forgive you. You took something really precious away from me. I will never talk to her ever again. I will never be able to hold her again. But I forgive you and have mercy on your soul. It hurts me, it hurts a lot of people but God forgive you and I forgive you.”
For several of the victims, including state legislator Clementa Pinckney, no one in court opted to speak on behalf of the family. A representative for victim Sharonda Coleman-Singleton was in court but when called on by the judge, chose not to speak.