As Dylan Roof Sentenced to Death, Families of Shooting Victims Urge Killer to Turn to Christ

CHARLESTON, S.C. — Family members of those who were shot to death while attending a 2015 Bible study at South Carolina’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church called upon gunman Dylann Roof to turn to Christ on Wednesday as he was formally sentenced to death for his crimes.

“If at any point before you are sentenced and you’re in prison and you want me to come and pray with you, I will do that,” offered Sheila Capers, the sister-in-law of Cynthia Hurd, who said she prays for Roof to be saved.

According to reports, Roof would not make eye contact with those who spoke to him and remained expressionless.

“I understand why you don’t want to look at us, so I will speak to the spirit that possesses you,” declared Dan Simmons Jr., son of ministerial staff member Daniel Simmons, who was among the victims.

“You don’t have to look at me. But I see that spirit. I want you to think about that as I forgive for your act, for your actions,” he said. “Know you have an opportunity to ask for forgiveness. Know that God will forgive you. … If you choose to serve Him, you will have a better life.”

Simmons also offered personal forgiveness to Roof despite the pain.

“I know that you don’t understand that, but God requires me to forgive you,” he said. “He also requires me to plead and pray for you. And I do that.”

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Shirrene Goss, the sister of Tywanza Sanders, took to task Roof’s assertion that he “had to do it,” reminding him of the gravity of his sins.

“You, young man, are among the worst kind of evil,” she said. “You have said you didn’t have to do this, but you felt you had to do this. The fact is, you did not have to do this just as my brother Tywanza urged you not to. … One day before your final earthly judgment, it’s going to come to you, and you are going to realize you did not have to do this. And it’s going to hit you hard.”

Sander’s father also spoke, warning Roof that he will have to face his Creator.

“Why you want to single out black people in a church?” he asked. “That I don’t know. But whoever your Creator is, He’s coming for you.”

Melvin Graham, the brother of victim Cynthia Graham Hurd, told reporters after the sentencing that he was leaving the matter in the hands of God, who has given Roof another chance to repent before it is too late.

“He’s in God’s hands now,” Graham said. “If he turns his life around, if he makes a humble confession to God, when he gets there he can join my sister and the other eight in heaven.”

But, he warned, “Just like when he showed no remorse here—when that time comes [for him to die]—if he chooses not to show any remorse, then he again will determine his sentence.”

Roof is the first convict charged with a hate crime to be sentenced to death. He has 14 days to appeal.

As previously reported, Roof is believed to have attended Emanuel’s Wednesday night Bible study for approximately an hour on June 17, 2015 before spraying the room with gunfire, reloading several times.

When police arrived on the scene, they found eight people—six women, two men—who were already deceased, including the pastor. One church member was transported by ambulance to the hospital, but died on the operating table.

A woman who was in the congregation that night said that he had made racist remarks before opening fire, stating, “I have to do it. You’re raping our women and taking over the country. You have to go.”


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  • Grace Kim Kwon

    I pray for his repentance and salvation, too, but murder crime should get execution even if he repents.

  • Robert

    The best thing about being setenced to death and especialy by a unanimus decision it leaves no doubt how sinful you are.Its a power ful lesson about Gods law. it leaves the person devistated . they cant run they cant hide their faced with the cosequences of their sin in no uncertain terms. Completly helpless a pitiful mess . Now after it all sinks in.
    it so much easier to introduce them to their only savior from sin Jesus
    whos ssys those he has forgiven much Love him much. Luke 7
    Martin Luther once said more people are converted to christ facing the gallows than those who just sit in church pews

  • Roy Hobs

    Something very odd about the arrest of Roof.

    • Shelly

      Explain??

      • Roy Hobs

        Did you watch it?

  • Off Shore

    “Roof is the first convict charged with a hate crime to be sentenced to death.”
    So if the gatekeeper says it is a hate crime then you can be sentenced to death? Be careful what you wish for because your personal belief will be next and you will be executed because you disagree with the gatekeeper. This is the precedent that they will use to usher in the birth pangs, come Lord.

    Matthew 24:9

  • Judy Zwyghuizen

    So sorry for your losse’s this shooting must stop somehow from all people Created Equal!

  • Needanswer

    This article headline said the victims’ families urged Dylan to turn to Christ but this article doesn’t quote any of those people even mentioning the name of Jesus or Christ at all. They just said for him to “turn his life around”, or “turn to God”…that’s very vague. It’s to CHRIST JESUS (specifically) that one must repent to and believe upon for salvation.

  • As it should be, except:

    “…’Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sonsof men is fully set in them [given fully, NASB] to do evil.’ (Ecclesiastes 8:11)

    “’Justice delayed is justice denied!’ Countless laws, minimal deterrence, and delayed and protracted trials multiply criminals. The more criminals, the more burdened the courts. The more burdened the courts, the slower justice. The slower justice, the less deterrence. The less deterrence, the more criminals…. It is a never-ending degenerative cycle. Today’s appellate system, which allows criminals’ numerous appeals, sometimes spanning years, exacerbates the problem. For example, it took ten years to finally put Ted Bundy, arguably America’s most notorious serial sexual murderer, to death. By that time, the deterrent was all but lost upon the generation most familiar with the case. Thus more criminals, more court cases, more delayed justice, less deterrence, more criminals. Eventually, society morally collapses.

    “Under Biblical government’s fewer laws and greater deterrence, far fewer criminals exist. All apprehended capital criminals are promptly brought to trial and, if found guilty, are immediately and publicly executed. If a person is found guilty of a non-capital crime, he is required to pay two to five times restitution to the injured party, depending on the nature of the offense. If the convicted criminal cannot pay the required restitution, he is put into indentured servitude until his debt has been completely paid….”

    For more, see online Chapter 17 “Amendment 8: Bail, Fines, and Cruel and Unusual Punishments” of “Bible Law vs. the United States Constitution: The Christian Perspective.” Click on my name, then our website. Go to our Online Books page, click on the top entry, and scroll down to Chapter 17.

    Then find out how much you REALLY know about the Constitution as compared to the Bible. Take our 10-question Constitution Survey in the right-hand sidebar and receive a complimentary copy of a book that EXAMINES the Constitution by the Bible.