Charleston Shooting: Victims' families tell alleged gunman 'I forgive you'
The suspect, 21, accused of shooting nine black worshippers at a South Carolina church on June 17, was motionless and wore a blank expression when he appeared, via video feed, at a bond hearing in court on Friday.
Dylann Roof, (below) a suspected white supremacist, showed no signs of any emotion as he heard family members of some of the victims express their grief and forgive him killing their loved ones on Friday.
Roof has been ordered to remain in custody for nine murder charges.
Felicia Sanders, a survivor of the shooting, lost her son in the tragedy.
In court, Sanders, tearfully said: "Every fibre in my body hurts and I'll never be the same. Tywanza Sanders was my son. But he was my hero."
She continued: "As we said in the Bible study, we enjoyed you. But may God have mercy on you."
Nadine Collier, the daughter of victim Ethel Lance, said:
"I forgive you. You took something very precious from me. I will never talk to her ever again. I will never hold her again. And have mercy on your soul. You hurt me. You hurt a lot of people... I forgive you."
Many have been touched by the families' act of forgiveness - including President Barack Obama.
He wrote on Twitter: "In the midst of darkest tragedy, the decency and goodness of the American people shines through in these families."
Media reports state that Roof had walked into the Mother Emanuel church, one of the oldest black churches in the country, while a bible study session with a small group was taking place.
He sat down with the others and listened to the group. He then began to disagree with others as they spoke about scripture, said witnesses.
Roof had spent about an hour there when he suddenly stood and pulled a gun and shot the victims.
His arrest warrant revealed how he allegedly shot the six women and three men multiple times with a high-caliber handgun then stood over a survivor to make a “racially inflammatory” statement.
In trying to understand the mind of Dylann Roof, his cousin Scott Roof told The Intercept that there was a severe change in attitude when a black man started seeing a woman Roof was interested in.
He also said that the suspect listened to white power music.
“Dylann was normal until he started listening to that white power music stuff. He kind of went over the edge when a girl he liked starting dating a black guy two years back,” he said.
Before hanging up on the reporter, Scott Roof added: “Dylann liked her. The black guy got her. He changed. I don’t know if we would be here if not…”
Naturally, Americans have been outraged by this incident.
Many are calling this an act of terrorism despite the media's hesitance in using the term.
Meanwhile, republican candidate Rick Perry called the tragedy an "accident" and blamed drugs instead.
Perry said that the "real issue to be talked about" was drugs adding that he suspected the shooting was a drug-induced incident.
He said: "It seems to me - again, without having all the details about this one - that these individuals have been medicated. And there may be a real issue in this country, from the standpoint of these drugs, and how they're used."
He also accused Barack Obama of using this tragedy as an excuse to push for stricter gun control: "This is the MO of this administration, any time there is an accident like this, the president is clear. He doesn't like for Americans to have guns and so he uses every opportunity, this being another one, to basically go parrot that message."
Perry believed that changing gun laws would do nothing in preventing these shootings "as long as evil and cowardice is alive in the world".Source: AFP, New York Times, CNN, The Intercept, The Independent