2015-06-20 02:09:53 UTC
Victims' Families Meet Dylann Roof: 'I Forgive You, And Have Mercy On Your Soul'
The Huffington Post | By Andy Campbell & Sebastian Murdock
CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Dylann Roof heard his charges -- nine counts of murder -- at his first court appearance in South Carolina on Friday afternoon.
Roof, the lead suspect in Wednesday's mass shooting at a historic black church in Charleston, made his appearance remotely, dressed in striped inmates' garb and flanked by two officers. On the screen, he wore a stoic expression as he looked out over the bond hearing. Representatives of the victims were in the courtroom, and got to look into Roof's eyes as they forgave him, one by one.
"I forgive you," Nadine Collier, daughter of victim Ethel Lance, said to Roof. "I will never talk to her ever again, never be able to hold her again. I forgive you and have mercy on your soul. You hurt me, you hurt a lot of people, but I forgive you."
Alana Simmons, granddaughter of victim Daniel Simmons, also spoke to the suspect.
"Hate won't win," she said. "My grandfather and the other victims died at the hands of hate. Everyone's plea for your soul is proof that they lived in love and their legacies live in love."
The judge asked Roof whether he understood the charges against him, noting that his next two hearings would take place on Oct. 23 and Feb. 5.
Roof looked into the camera and said, "Yes, thank you, sir."
Roof's bond was set at $1 million for the weapons charge, though he wasn't allowed bond on the other charges.
Afterward, Collier gave a short press conference to express her love for her mother:
Prior to the hearing, a spokesman with the Charleston County Sheriff's Office told The Huffington Post that Roof is on suicide watch and that his family won't be able to visit him for his first 72 hours in jail. But he said that as far as he knew, Roof's family hasn't yet tried to contact the suspect, who is accused of shooting nine people dead at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston on Wednesday.
"To my knowledge, family members have not reached out to visit Mr. Roof," Maj. Eric Watson told HuffPost.
The Charleston Police Department announced Roof's charges, which include possession of a firearm, on Twitter just hours before the hearing. The department confirmed that Roof won't get bond for the murder charges:
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) called for the death penalty Friday, and characterized Roof's alleged attack as "an absolute hate crime," according to The New York Times.
"This is a state that is hurt by the fact that nine people innocently were killed," Haley told the paper, adding that the state "absolutely will want him to have the death penalty."
Later on Friday, the FBI announced that it will look into the murders as a potential act of "domestic terrorism" as part of its investigation.
Roof was arrested on Thursday after a florist in Kings Mountain, North Carolina, noticed his vehicle, followed him and called police. He was collared in Shelby, North Carolina, more than 200 miles from Charleston.
He waived his extradition and was transported by plane back to Charleston late Thursday.
Some media outlets are reporting that Roof confessed to the killings at Emanuel AME. He was reportedly unrepentant during his interviews with police, saying that he wanted his actions known to the world, The Washington Post reports.