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Families Forgive Church Shooter

37174257 - forgive stone block in hands with dark background.The families of several victims of the deadly shooting at church in Charleston, South Carolina last year are urging forgiveness for gunman Dylann Roof as he faces the death penalty for his crime.

The Daily Caller is reporting on statements by several family members of the nine victims of Roof’s attack on a prayer group at the Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston on the evening of June 17, 2015. Roof, who was 21 years old at the time, entered the church and appeared to be participating in the prayer group when he suddenly stood up and pulled a gun from his backpack. He aimed the gun at 87 year-old Susie Jackson whose nephew, Tywanza, 26, tried to stop him. When asked why he was shooting innocent people, Roof replied, “I have to do it. You rape our women and you’re taking over our country and you have to go.” As he took aim at Susie, Tywanza jumped in front of her and was the first to die.

Seven other members of the prayer group were gunned down before Roof attempted to kill himself but realized he was out of ammunition. He was later apprehended and was indicted on 33 federal hate crimes charges.

The Department of Justice, under the leadership of Attorney General Loretta Lynch, decided to pursue the death sentence due to Roof’s hatred for blacks and the absence of any remorse for the crime.

The decision did not sit well with some of the family members of the slain.

According to the Daily Caller, Rev. Sharon Risher, whose mother was killed in the massacre, told The New York Times that she believes executing Roof would be an act of vengeance and that her Christian faith instructs her to forgive.

Dylann Root Dylann Root

“My humanness is being broken, my humanness of wanting this man to be broken beyond punishment,” Risher said. “You can’t do that if you really say that you believe in the Bible and you believe in Jesus Christ. You can’t just waver.”

Two other family members have also made court statements extending mercy to Roof.

“You took something very precious away from me,” said Nadine Collier, daughter of victim Ethel Lance, during a bond hearing last year. “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.”

Tywanza Sanders mother also spoke of forgiveness. “Every fiber in my body hurts, and I will never be the same. Tywanza Sanders is my son, but Tywanza was my hero,” Felicia Sanders said at the same hearing. “Tywanza was my hero. But as we say in Bible study, we enjoyed you. But may God have mercy on you.”

Just last week a federal judge ruled that Roof was competent to stand trial. Jury selection began yesterday and the trial is expected to begin in January.

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