On Monday the story behind the Charleston church shooting made national headlines when Dylann Roof a young man who was convicted for opening fire and killing nine people in the historically black Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church roughly two years ago pleaded guilty to state murder charges.
Felicia Sanders, one of the survivors of the shooting spoke at the eighth Women in the World Summit to Nightline’s Juju Chang about how events unfolded that fateful day back in June of 2015. First saying, “I was at the church all day that Wednesday.” Adding that, “I told my son not to come because we were going to cancel all the meetings but after the meeting we decided to have Bible study.”
And roughly five minutes after the session started, Sanders explained that Roof came in, originally they thought he was just coming to study the Bible with the rest of the group because “he was calm” and she explained that he sat with them very calm and he actually engaged with them. And right as they all closed their eyes to pray is when she heard bullets starting to fly.
As Sanders fights back emotion, she then says that 77 shots were fired and she had her granddaughter on one side and her son on the other side. “And my aunt on the other side of me. I had to choose which one I was going to cover. My granddaughter kept saying, ‘granny I’m so afraid.’ And told her granddaughter and son to play to dead.
She could hear her son engaging with Roof. When her son told the young man he didn’t have to do this, he responded with he had to because “you are raping white women and are taking over the world,” Sanders said. In response, her son said “you do not have to do this” and continued to say, “we mean you no harm.”
Sanders fought back tears as she pointed to a problem she thinks plays a crucial role in leading people to desperation and sometimes violence, saying “the problem is we don’t take time to look at each other. We don’t take time to know each other.”
Now that she recalls what happens, she thinks about how God gave up Jesus for our sins.
“When I think about Tywanza, I think a lot about Jesus. You know, (God) gave His Son. My son gave up his life to save me. I didn’t want him to do that, but he did it.
When asked how she was able to forgive Dylann, she said it was actually one of the easiest things for her to do. “Forgiveness is throughout the Bible. I was not going to give Dylann Roof the opportunity to send me to hell right with him.”
Her 26-year-old son saved the only three that made it out alive, his aunt, daughter and his mother.
“Everybody really loved him. One thing I never got was why did he want to do everything so quick. After he died, I said golly he only had 26 years to do it. That’s why he was in such a hurry.”
In December of last year, the mother shared what it was like to watch her son die in front of her and how 21-year-old Roof shot five bullets into him as he stressed to him he didn’t have to do this, according to a NBC news report.
Roof has continued to identify himself as a “white supremacist” and now will face three consecutive 30-year sentences after pleading guilty to nine murder charges, three attempted murder charges and one murder charge, according to CNN.
Faithwire previously reported that the victims’ families plead for Roof to accept Christ before his execution that has yet to be scheduled.
(H/T: Women in the World)
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