A court in Charleston, South Carolina, has released a surveillance video that captured images of alleged shooter Dylann Roof with his gun in his hand leaving a church in the historic city after massacring nine black worshipers. He is currently on trial for their murder.
It was a warm June night in 2015 while a video surveillance camera captured a view of the front door of the church. It recorded the door of the church opening, and then a young blonde man stepped out with a gun in his hand. He looked tentatively both ways before leaving the doorway and could then be seen walking casually to his car that was parked nearby. After he disappears from the frame, the lights of the small car could then be seen turned on, and then pulling out of the parking space.
Defense lawyers for Roof have not denied his guilt, but are trying to get a penalty that is less than the death penalty. Jurors were shown surveillance footage of Roof entering the church, and then leaving 52 minutes later with a gun in his hand. They also saw photographs of the blood spattered church and a 360-degree view of the church showed bullet-holes, dead bodies, and shell casings.
Prosecutors are asking that he be sentenced to death for the murders, and will recommend that punishment to the jury if he is convicted. So far, they have refused to remove capital punishment from any plea deal that would see Roof admit to the crimes. Roof is allowing lawyers to represent him through the first phase of the trial, but insists that he will represent himself in the sentencing phase. He alone will plead his case for life imprisonment as opposed to the death penalty.
Felicia Sanders is among those calling for Roof’s death. She she he is “evil, evil, evil as can be.” She watched Roof shoot her son Tywanza Sanders and aunt Susie Jackson to death. She has told jurors that the “only place” for Roof is in the “pit of hell.”
Some members of the congregation of Emanuel AME Church, where the massacre unfolded, including survivors and the families of the dead are calling for clemency. Just two days after the attack, which yielded nine dead, Roof appeared for a bond hearing. Several family members of the victims sought to forgive Roof. Nadine Collier, for example, addressed him on closed-circuit television. “I forgive you. You took something very precious from me,” Collier said of her 70-year-old mother, Ethel Lance. “I will never talk to her again, but I forgive you, have mercy on your soul.