Faith Institutions News

White supremacist found guilty on all counts in Charleston church massacre

Police lead suspected shooter Dylann Roof, 21, into the courthouse in Shelby, N.C., on June 18, 2015. Reuters/Jason Miczek

CHARLESTON, S.C. (Reuters) A federal jury on Thursday (Dec. 15) found avowed white supremacist Dylann Roof guilty on all counts for gunning down nine black parishioners at a historic church in Charleston last year.

Twelve jurors deliberated for a little under two hours after six days of chilling testimony about the bloodshed during a Bible study at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church on June 17, 2015.

The panel will return on Jan. 3 to decide whether Roof should be sentenced to death or life in prison.

Roof, 22, showed no emotion as the guilty verdicts were read on 33 charges of federal hate crimes resulting in death, obstruction of religion and firearms violations.

The victims’ family members, who sat through the trial as lawyers presented graphic crime scene photos and details about Roof’s months of planning for the attack, felt a sense of relief.

“I am just overjoyed that the judicial system, the jurors, saw fit to give us this triumph,” said Sharon Risher, 58, whose mother Ethel Lance was killed. “It gives us an opportunity to start the healing process.”

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley also welcomed the verdict. In the aftermath of the massacre, which intensified the debate about race relations in the United States, Haley led a push that removed the Confederate battle flag from the state capitol grounds in Columbia.

The flag was carried by pro-slavery Confederate forces during the Civil War and is viewed by many as a racist emblem.

“It is my hope that the survivors, the families and the people of South Carolina can find some peace in the fact that justice has been served,” the governor said in a statement.

Roof’s trial was one of two racially charged proceedings that played out in recent weeks in courthouses across the street from each other in the heart of Charleston’s downtown.

A state murder trial against a former North Charleston police officer who shot and killed a black man fleeing a traffic stop last year ended on Dec. 5 in a mistrial after jurors deadlocked.

Roof’s guilt was not in dispute. He had offered to plead guilty if prosecutors would forgo seeking the death penalty, which they refused.

During his trial, jurors watched his two-hour videotaped confession to Federal Bureau of Investigation agents and heard eyewitness testimony from two survivors of the shooting.

One of the survivors, 72-year-old retired nurse Polly Sheppard, said Roof told her she was being spared so she could recount the story of what he had done.

Prosecutors said during closing arguments on Thursday that racial hatred drove Roof to kill innocent churchgoers as retribution for perceived offenses against his race.

He spent months scouting potential sites for the attack, bought a gun and hundreds of rounds of ammunition and railed against blacks and Jews in his journal and online manifesto.

After receiving a warm welcome from parishioners when he arrived at the Bible study, Roof waited until they had closed their eyes in prayer before opening fire, witnesses testified.

“You can see what kind of hatred he had: a vast hatred that was cold and calculated,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Nathan Williams said.

Roof’s defense lawyers, hoping to keep him from the execution chamber, asked jurors to consider what factors had led Roof to commit the senseless act and suggested he might be delusional.

The defense did not call any witnesses after the trial judge blocked them from presenting evidence of Roof’s mental state during the guilt phase of the trial. Roof plans to represent himself during the penalty phase.

Roof also is due to stand trial next year on state murder charges.

Malcolm Graham, younger brother of shooting victim Cynthia Hurd, said his family supports a death sentence for Roof.

“I didn’t really need to hear (jurors) pronounce him guilty. I knew he was guilty a year and a half ago,” Graham said in a phone interview.

About the author



Click here to post a comment

  • An entirely proper judgment. Regardless of the penalty meted out to him, it is my hope and prayer that he will reflect on his actions and then repent of them. What is done cannot be undone, but for the benefit of his future state I wish that he will be amenable in his heart to the Gospel that his victims embraced and attain spiritual freedom although his physical freedom and perhaps even his physical life will be taken from him.

  • CNN’s Brooke Baldwin just announced the verdict with a personal disclaimer: “I refuse to say his name.”
    Good for you, Ms. Baldwin! That’s exactly how I think the news should treat all “notorious”-wannabe mass-murderers and terrorists.
    As for the criminal, I wish him Empathy — and the full measure of Understanding that accompanies it.

  • That would be a good thing. It makes it harder to take them seriously. The most dangerous part of the Alt Right would be giving their crap some semblance of mainstream acceptance and legitimacy.

    Let them rally around mass murdering miscreants. Let everyone know what kind of cretinous filth they are.

  • You are correct there. Because they are pretending right now that they are not murderous crazies. There is a pretension of sanity, if not an actuality if it.

  • “The [Confederate battle flag] was carried by pro-slavery Confederate forces during the Civil War and is viewed by many as a racist emblem.”

    The War of 1861 was not a civil war.

    By definition, a civil war involves two or more factions within a single nation battling over which faction will rule the nation.

    Not since the French and Indian War (1754-1763) has there been a civil war fought between Caucasians on the American continent north of the Rio Grande.

    Examples of civil wars:

    • The English Civil War (1642-1651) pitted Parliamentarians (Roundheads) against Royalists (Cavaliers) over who would govern England.

    • The French and Indian War (1754-1763) was, in part, a war between the British and the French, fought in Canada over who would control Canada. (What is now the nation of Canada was then a group of British and French colonies.)

    • The Russian Civil War (1917-1922) was a series of battles between the Red Army (Bolsheviks) and the White Russians (anti-Bolsheviks) over who would rule Russia.

    • The Irish Civil War (1922-1923) was fought between pro-Treaty forces and anti-Treaty forces over whether Ireland would be a dominion within the British Empire or a republic to itself.

    • The Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) saw La Banda Republicana battling La Banda Nacional to determine who would rule Spain.

    • The Rwandan Civil War (1990-1994) involved Hutus fighting Tutsis for control of Rwanda.

    In the War of 1861, as in the War of 1776, the fighting was not between two or more factions within a single nation fighting for control of that nation; rather, it was the Confederate States of America vs. the United States of America — two separate nations — fighting over the question of independence for one of the nations.

    Another common, but inaccurate, name is “The War Between the States.”

    As above stated, the fighting was not Alabama vs. Iowa, Texas vs. Massachusetts, etc.; rather, it was two separate nations fighting over the question of independence for one of the nations.

    The War of 1861 was an almost exact replay of the War of 1776:

    In the 1770s, Virginia, the two Carolinas, Georgia, and nine other States seceded from the British Empire.
    In the 1860s, Virginia, the two Carolinas, Georgia, and nine other States seceded from the United States of America.

    In the 1770s, the British Empire could have simply let the seceding States go in peace.
    In the 1860s, the United States of America could have simply let the seceding States go in peace.

    In the 1770s, the British Empire did not want to lose the seceding States, so they attacked.
    In the 1860s, the United States of America did not want to lose the seceding States, so they attacked.

    In the War of 1776, the British Empire’s objective in fighting was to force the seceded States to rejoin the British Empire.
    In the War of 1861, the United States of America’s objective in fighting was to force the seceded States to rejoin the United States of America.

    In the War of 1776, the seceding States’ objective in fighting was in response to being invaded by British forces.
    In the War of 1861, the seceding States’ objective in fighting was in response to being invaded by United States forces.

    In both wars, one side was battling for independence while the other side was battling to prevent independence.

    Since the War of 1776 is often referred to as The War for American Independence, a very-much-to-the-point name for the War of 1861 is The War for Southern Independence.

  • “The [Confederate battle flag] was carried by pro-slavery Confederate forces during the Civil War and is viewed by many as a racist emblem.”

    To refute the oft-repeated canard that the War for Southern Independence was fought over slavery, I need only mention the Corwin Amendment. That amendment was offered 2 March 1861 by Ohio Republican Representative Thomas Corwin, gained large Congressional approval, and was favorably commented upon by Abraham Lincoln in his first inaugural address. (An identical proposal had been previously offered by New York Republican Senator William H. Seward.)

    That amendment read: “No amendment shall be made to the Constitution which will authorize or give to Congress the power to abolish or interfere, within any State, with the domestic institutions thereof, including that of persons held to labor or service by the laws of said State.”

    If the seceded States had wished to preserve slavery, they had only to re-join the Union and ratify the amendment. They did not because they had seceded to escape an all-intrusive overweening government – just as thirteen States had seceded from the British Empire in 1776, Mexico from the Spanish Empire in 1810, and Texas from Mexico in 1836.


  • “The [Confederate battle flag] was carried by pro-slavery Confederate forces during the Civil War and is viewed by many as a racist emblem.”

    Those who jeer at Confederate flags as offensive while not similarly jeering at the thirteen-stripe United States flag are either ill-informed or selectively malicious.

    A careful examination of the facts will show that there are several possible reasons to find the thirteen-stripe flag objectionable:

    Possible African-American objections to the thirteen-stripe flag:

    • Under the thirteen-stripe flag, many thousands of Africans were transported to slavery in the New World.
    No Confederate-flagged ship ever made a slaving-run.

    • Under the thirteen-stripe flag, the African slave trade (importation of Africans to be sold into bondage) was authorized for 32 years (1776-1808).
    The Confederate constitution prohibited the African slave trade.

    • Under the thirteen-stripe flag, slavery was authorized for 89 years (1776-1865).
    Under Confederate flags, it was authorized for four years.

    • Under the thirteen-stripe flag, the military services were segregated until after World War II.
    Confederate military units saw many different ethnicities – including thousands of blacks – serving cheek-by-jowl and receiving the same pay and allowances.

    Possible Jewish objection to the thirteen-stripe flag:

    Under the thirteen-stripe flag, an Army Order (General Order No. 12) was issued by Ulysses S. Grant 17 December 1862 forcibly removing all Jewish people from parts of Tennessee, Mississippi, and Kentucky.
    The Confederate States of America never practiced anti-Semitism. To the contrary — the Confederate forces included Jewish officers and enlisted men, and from the beginning, the Confederate cabinet included Judah Philip Benjamin, a Jew. (The first Jewish US cabinet member, Oscar Straus, served under Theodore Roosevelt.)

    Possible Native American/Indian objection to the thirteen-stripe flag:

    Under the thirteen-stripe flag, Native Americans/Indians were cheated, forcibly removed from their ancestral lands, and massacred wholesale.
    Native Americans/Indians received no such treatment at Confederate hands. To the contrary — Native Americans/Indians played a vital role in the Confederate Army. General Stand Watie, a Cherokee, was the last Confederate general to sign a cease-fire with the US Army.

    Possible Japanese-American objection to the thirteen-stripe flag:

    Under the thirteen-stripe flag, American citizens in the 1940s were forcibly removed from their homes and herded into concentration camps solely because their ancestors had been born in Japan.
    The Confederate States of America never put anyone into a concentration camp based on his ethnicity.

    Possible objections to the thirteen-stripe flag in general:

    • Under the thirteen-stripe flag, atrocities were committed against noncombatant civilians during the 1860s — atrocities to rank with those committed by the Germans and Japanese during World War II.
    No Confederate unit ever committed atrocities against noncombatants.

    • Under the thirteen-stripe flag, rations and supplies – which were plentiful – were denied to Confederate prisoners of war.
    Confederate regulations called for Yankee prisoners of war to receive the same rations and supplies as Confederate soldiers. When those rations and supplies could not be had – thanks to Yankee blockades of Confederate ports, and the Yankee Army’s scorched-earth policy, the Confederate soldiers starved and suffered along with the Yankee prisoners of war.

    • Yankee troops guarding Confederate prisoners of war abused them and shot at them for sport.
    Confederate troops did not abuse Yankee prisoners of war.

    • The thirteen-stripe flag is the favored flag of the Ku Kluxers.

  • This guy is a nazi and KKK supporter who carefully planned the murders, if not in this church then in another — he had a list of black churches. I’m generally against capital punishment but this is a case where the death penalty is appropriate for someone who did what he did and admits his guilt. I’m glad the victims got justice but I grieve for their losses.

  • He meets the definition of the worst of the worst. The death penalty is a suitable punishment for acts which go beyond the pale of what can be tolerated by society.

  • “No Confederate unit ever committed atrocities against noncombatants”

    Unless they were black. Then all manner of atrocities were committed.

    Neo confederate statements are worthless dishonest revisionism. An attempt to polish the turd of slavery which formed the raison d’etre of the confederacy. False equivalence and blatant omission and misrepresentation of material facts are rife with your post.

    The ultimate stupidity of this glorified (and implicitly racist) nostalgia spinning is that there is no way a confederate victory could be seen as anything good for the nation. It had to be defeated, slavery had to be abolished, and the “states rights” for issues of civil liberties had to be put down, if the nation was to survive and be a flourishing democracy.

    Your disdain for the united states and glorification of a breakaway State founded on the premise of keeping humans as chattel property is duly noted.

    Like it or not the confederate battle flag is currently used as a symbol of white supremacy. You can’t hand wave that away or bullshit the public into pretending otherwise.

  • To bad you don’t dance with glee when the shoe is other foot. You seem as if its ok the murder of millions in other countries .Hypocrisy THE NATIONAL SPORT.

  • Strange argument to bring up in this context. The first thing to say is that your argument here is a fine blend of ad hominem (e.g., people offended by the Confederate flag are “malicious”) and tu quoque (i.e., your flag sucks too, or is worse) fallacies, but I’ll play anyway.

    Some people do object to the U.S. flag, and for some of the reasons you list (I didn’t read them all; a few points are, I think, erroneous but they aren’t germane). However, for better or worse, right or wrong, a seeming majority of people living in the U.S. today regard this flag as a symbol of freedom. By contrast, many people – maybe even most; I have no idea how many, really – regard Confederate flags (all variants, including the battle flag) as symbolic of white supremacy and slavery. Why?

    The simplest answer is that the latter flags still carry the taint of the Confederacy and its guiding principles, including the institution of slavery and broad belief in white supremacy. You are quite wrong to state, as you do in your next comment, that the “War of Southern Independence” (interesting choice) had nothing to do with the preservation of slavery or with white supremacy. The words of the secessionists themselves and those involved in the design and adoption of the flags flatly contradict you here, but I’ll get to that in a reply to that comment.

    Just as the Reichskriegsflagge (all variants) remains linked to Nazi Germany and the depredations of that regime, the flags of the Confederacy remain linked to the regime that birthed it and its modern sympathizers. After all, attempts to reclaim or recapitulate its meaning have failed in no small part due to its continued use by white supremacists. While I don’t think anyone can reasonably defend the U.S. flag as stainless (and I do agree with you that too many are ignorant on this point), pointing to its blemishes won’t rehabilitate the Confederacy or its flags.

  • “By definition, a civil war involves two or more factions within a single nation battling over which faction will rule the nation.”

    That is one definition, but you are deaf wrong in claiming it is the only definition. There are numerous examples of civil wars involving the dissolution of a nation or breakaway states.

    -The creation of Panama from Colombian territory after a US inspired rebellion.
    -The Katanga incident in the Congo
    -The Sudanese Civil War
    -The Yugoslav Civil War
    -The Kosovo conflict

    Those are just the ones off the top of my head.

  • Yes our country carries a lot of unfortunate baggage. However, the confederate flag is not an America flag. It is the flag of a traitorous nation that launched an unsuccessful war against the United States. That’s how I see it. Since the Civil Rights era it has been used as a symbol of white power and racism, regardless of what southerners claim as historical pride. My paternal antecedents fought on the side of the Confederates and I have lived most of my adult life in the south so I do understand the southern mindset.

  • Oh come on! I would sincerely love to hear your take on Dylan Roof and his sentencing. Please elaborate what you meant at least. I mean that in an unironic and genuine way. I want to hear what you really have to say here. 🙂

  • Perhaps. Sometimes it’s a great way to get people to open up.

    Are you genuinely stupid? Not pretending at all?

  • It would be impossible to communicate with you. You doubt programs like mk-ultra, so why even try to discuss it with you. Did you listen to the Gnostic Media guys talking about “mind control”? Probably not.
    If you want to read something, I’d be happy to include a link.

  • Most spree killers are crazy white guys. So you might be waiting a while.

    By all means tell us what you think of Mr. Roof and his verdict.

  • “It gives us an opportunity to start the healing process.”

    Those kinds of statements always concern me because it sounds like that person has put the grieving and recovering process on hold depending upon the verdict. While it’s understandable, it’s not good to tie up one’s self with the murderer in even the most remote way.

    NaziKKK (alt-right) is a disgusting, loathesome and shameful blot on America.

  • Please give me a link. I promise I will read it with an open mind and not give a comment or judge it.

    BTW I heard the podcasts. Which was rare that I found the time to do so. I have a plethora of audio books and Big Finish dramas queued up for months. Just because I don’t believe any of that stuff doesn’t mean I am not interested. I just enjoy it differently.

  • “… Just because I don’t believe any of that stuff……
    You see……that’s just it……….you don’t have a mind that is open to certain truths/facts that will counter your pre-existing belief. So what’s the point. If you were truly interested in hearing a different side to this story, you would have found the information on your own. It’s not hard. Google works pretty well.
    Btw……..Was Oswald the only shooter? If you can’t see beyond Oswald……….there is really no point in having any kind of discussion. If you can’t admit that the JFK assassination is more than the story they peddled………..

  • “Btw……..Was Oswald the only shooter? ”

    50 years of forensic advances have shown it is entirely plausible and likely. But it is also apparent JFKs doctors screwed up the autopsy and covered it up to save their jobs. There was certainly a conspiracy. Just not the one you are probably thinking of.

    You said you would give me a link and I promised not to be my usual judgmental dillhole self in reaction to it. What more do you need?

  • 50 years of forensic advances have shown it is entirely plausible and likely.
    And wtc 7 collapsed due to fire.
    Use Google to entertain yourself.

  • No brainer, although the obstruction of religion charge surprised me. Overlooked that in reading about this previously, and I didn’t know the government distinguishes crimes connected to a victim’s religious practices from other varieties of hate crime. Anyway, I’m glad some families feel some sense of closure, and that some measure of justice was served.

  • My list of mass murderers are all the presidents of the 20th and 21st century.Roof comes no where near the top of the list.Tom Metzger

  • OK I will fess up.

    The reason we haven’t heard from 9/11 truthers is not that they have been thoroughly debunked by scads of scientific bodies. It’s that under GWB and Obama, those people have been locked away in secret FEMA camps in Chicago, downtown Detroit and Park Slope Brooklyn.

    I know this as being a loyal member of the Masonic Reptilian Rotarian Conspiracy.

  • I didn’t realize plain English was so tough.Are you ever going to come out of your mothers basement and give her some peace?