CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) – A judge has set a $1 million bond for a 21-year-old white man accused of fatally shooting nine people at a black church in Charleston.
The magistrate judge set the bond for a weapons charge but doesn’t have the authority to set bond on the nine murder counts that Dylann Roof faces. That will be left up to a circuit judge at a later date.
Roof appeared by video and stared straight ahead as five victims’ family members gave statements, some of them saying “hate won’t win.” Roof showed no reaction as they told him they would have mercy on him and that they forgave him.
The woman who survived the massacre by playing dead even as her son was killed told Roof that their Bible study welcomed him with open arms, but now she’ll never be the same.
Felecia Sanders is the mother of Tywanza Sanders, who was one of the nine killed in Wednesday’s shooting. She told him as he appeared via video link at jail: “You have killed some of the most beautifulest people that I know. Every fiber in my body hurts.”
She also said: “Tywanza Sanders was my son, but Tywanza was my hero.”
According to a woman who spoke with her, Sanders has said she survived by playing dead as she lay on top of her granddaughter to protect her.
The judge set the bond with the understanding that Roof will be held until his bond hearing on the murder charges.
Authorities say Roof opened fire at a Bible study at Emanuel AME Church. He was at the prayer meeting for about an hour before he started shooting. The governor has called for him to face the death penalty.
The Justice Department says it is investigating the slayings from all angles, including whether it could be a hate crime or domestic terrorism.
Agency spokeswoman Emily Pierce said in a statement Friday that “heartbreaking episode was undoubtedly designed to strike fear and terror into this community” and that the investigation is ongoing.
A friend has said Roof had made racist statements in recent weeks, including saying that black people were taking over the country and that something needed to be done for the sake of whites.