Charleston victims' families tell Dylann Roof: "I forgive you"

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"I forgive you." "God have mercy on you." "Hate won't win."

These are the messages that the family members of the victims of Wednesday night's horrific Charleston shooting had for accused shooter Dylann Roof on Friday afternoon. Five of the children, parents, and relatives gathered in a somber Charleston courtroom made statements to Roof over video link during his bail hearing. (Not all of the nine victims had a family member speak.)

Here's what each family member who did make a statement had to say:

Ethel Lance


"I forgive you. You took something very precious from me, I will never talk to her ever again, I will never be able to hold her again. But I forgive you. Have mercy on your soul. You hurt me, you hurt a lot of people, but God forgive you and I forgive you."

—Ethel Lance, her daughter

Myra Thompson

"I forgive you and my family forgives you. But we would like him to take this opportunity to repent. Repent, confess, give your life to the one who matters the most, Christ, so he can change it, can change it no matter what happened you, and you'll be OK through that. You'll be better off than you were right now."

—Anthony Thompson, her family member

Tywanza Sanders


"We welcomed you Wednesday night in our bible study with open arms. You have killed some of the most beautiful people I know. Every fiber in my body hurts. And I'll never be the same. Tywanza Sanders was my son, but Tywanza was my hero. Tywanza was my hero. But as we said in bible study, we enjoyed you. But may God have mercy on you."

—Alicia Sanders, his mother

Daniel Simmons


"Although my grandfather and the other victims died at the hands of hate, this is proof, everyone's plea for your soul is proof that they lived in love and their legacies will live in love. Hate won't win, and I just want to thank the courts for making sure that hate doesn't win."

—Alana Simmons, his granddaughter

Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor


"For me, I'm a work in progress, and I acknowledge that I'm very angry, but one thing that DePayne is always joined in our family with, was that she taught us that we are the family that love built. We have no room for hate, so we have to forgive."

—Bethane Middleton-Brown, her sister

Related coverage:

Charleston shooter Dylann Roof charged with 9 counts of murder: What’s next?

In pictures: faith, healing, and hope after Charleston

Why doesn’t South Carolina have a hate crime law, given its past?

The Charleston shooting took place one day after the 193rd anniversary of a failed slave revolt at the same church


Casey Tolan is a National News Reporter for Fusion based in New York City.