The families of the victims of the Charleston Church Shooting, allegedly killed by Dylann Roof, forgave Roof in court on Friday.

Families Forgive Dylann Roof In Court

Last week, Roof allegedly sought out Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, and attended one hour of Bible Study before opening fire on its African American patrons, in what most agree was a racially motivated crime. Nine people were killed. Roof has been charged with nine counts of murder for the horrific attack, and appeared in court for the first time after his capture on Friday, June 19.

Chief Magistrate James Gosnell Jr. invited families of the victims to attend Roof’s bond hearing, allowing one representative from each to speak directly to Roof. The family representatives each took the opportunity to express their grief and many also offered Roof their forgiveness.

Ethel Lance, 70, was killed in the shooting, along with her cousin, Susie Jackson, 87. Lance’s daughter, Nadine Collier, addressed the court, saying, “I just want to say I forgive you… I will never talk to her ever again, I will never hold her again, but I forgive you. You hurt me. You hurt other people. But I forgive you.”

Felicia Sanders, who reportedly survived the attack and saw her 26-year-old son, Tywanza Sanders, gunned down in the massacre, also addressed Roof. “You have killed some of the most beautiful people that I know. Every fiber in my body hurts, and I will never be the same. Tywanza Sanders was my son, but Tywanza Sanders was my hero” she said through her tears. “May God have mercy on your soul.”

Alana Simmons, granddaughter of Rev. Daniel Simmons, 74, who was killed in the attack, encouraged everyone not to let their hatred and anger consume them. “Although my grandfather and the other victims died at the hands of hate… they lived in love. Everyone’s plea for your soul is proof they lived and loved.”

Sister of Rev. DePayne Middleton, another victim, acknowledged that she was “very angry,” but added, “We are the family that love built. We have no room for hate.”

Anthony Thompson, who lost his wife Myra Thompson in the shooting, also extended his forgiveness, addressing Roof directly: “I forgive you. My family forgives you. But we would like you to take this opportunity to repent.”

Roof was not awarded bond for the murder charges, but a $1 million bail was set for his weapons-possession charge. Roof might also face more charges as the Justice Department investigates the attack on Charleston as a hate crime.

Meanwhile, Emanuel AME Church reopened its doors on Sunday and welcomed a massive crowd for services. “The doors of the church are open. No demon on earth can close the doors of God’s church,” said Reverend Norvel Goff Sr., who led the service.

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