DYLANN Roof heard words of forgiveness from families of some of the nine people he’s accused of killing.
His response: A blank expression.
Wearing a striped inmate jumpsuit, the 21-year-old appeared Friday afternoon by video feed at a bond hearing in Charleston, South Carolina. He stood motionless while listening to the anguished words of relatives of victims he gunned down Wednesday night at a Bible study at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.
“I will never be able to hold her again, but I forgive you,” a daughter of Ethel Lance said. “And have mercy on your soul. You hurt me. You hurt a lot of people but God forgives you, and I forgive you.”
Felicia Sanders — mother of victim Tywanza Sanders and a survivor of the church shooting herself — said that “every fiber in my body hurts, and I will never be the same.”
“As we said in the Bible study, we enjoyed you,” she said of Roof. “But may God have mercy on you.”
The families got the attention of President Obama, who tweeted: “In the midst of darkest tragedy, the decency and goodness of the American people shines through in these families.”
Roof’s family spoke out for the first time Friday, extending its “deepest sympathy and condolences to the families of the victims,” according to a statement issued by his public defender.
“Words cannot express our shock, grief and disbelief as to what happened that night. We are devastated and saddened by what occurred. We offer our prayers sympathy for all of those impacted by these events,” the statement says. It ends asking for privacy for the Roof family.
Roof barely spoke at the hearing, answering the judge’s questions about his unemployment with a “yes, sir” and “no, sir” and stating his age as 21. The video feed meant Roof could hear, but not see, people in the courtroom, according to court employees. People in the courtroom could see and hear Roof.
Magistrate James B. Gosnell Jr. drew fire on social media by opening the hearing by expressing sympathy for Roof’s family.
He spoke about how Charleston would embrace all the crime victims and said: “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 were thrown into. … We must find it in our hearts at some point in time to not only help those who are victims but to help his family as well.”
Tweeted Desiree P. Urquhart @CBMaiden, “Magistrate James Gosnell Jr is an example of white southern bigotry, ignorant pontification & a good ole boy’s entitlement to say anything.” – CNN