CHARLESTON, S.C. (CBSNewYork/AP) — The suspect in a fatal church shooting at a historic black church was charged with nine counts of murder and one of possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime on Friday.
As CBS2’s Dave Carlin reported, Dylann Storm Roof, 21, entered the courtroom slowly and was expressionless for the duration of his bond hearing. He appeared over video link from the Charleston County Jail.READ MORE: De Blasio Says Solution To Spike In Gun Violence Is Courts, Economy And COVID Recovery; Security Expert Throws 'The BS Flag' On That
“The arrest of this heinous person was so important for the healing of this community,” said Charleston Mayor Joseph Riley.
In court Friday, a magistrate set bond at $1 million on the weapons possession charge. Chief Magistrate James Gosnell said only a circuit court judge in South Carolina can set bond on a murder charge.
Roof was remanded to jail on the nine counts of murder.
In court, Gosnell asked Roof basic questions, and Roof answered with no more than two words at a time.
Roof accused of killing nine bible study members at Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church federal law enforcement source saying he planned it for months and picked the historic site because he wanted to “start a race war.”
In court, Gosnell called on representatives of the nine victims. The first to address the court and specifically Roof was the daughter of victim Ethel Lance.
“I forgive you,” she told Roof. “God have mercy on your soul.”
Felicia Sanders spoke on behalf of her son, Tywanza.
“Every fiber in my body hurts, and I’ll never be the same,” she said.
Also speaking was the sister of the Rev. Depayne Middleton Doctor.
“We are family that love built,” she said. “We had no room for hate, so we have to forgive.”
In Brooklyn Friday evening, the Rev. Dr. Herbert Daughtry said the families of the victims sent a powerful message as they offered forgiveness, CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported.
“The message of forgiveness has a way of healing, and reconciling,” Daughtry said. “We have to forgive each other.”
Meanwhile in court, Gosnell surprised many when he began by urging the public to also be understanding of Roof’s family.
“We have victims — nine of them — but we have victims on the other side,” he said from the bench. “We must find it in our heart, in some point in time, not only to help those that are victims, but to also help his family as well.”
Meanwhile, the Roof family issued its own statement about the massacre.
“The Roof Family would like to extend their deepest sympathies and condolences to families of the victims in Wednesday night’s shooting at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. Words cannot express our shock, grief, and disbelief as to what happened that night,” the statement said in part. “We are devastated and saddened by what occurred. We offer our prayers sympathy for all of those impacted by these events.”
Police said Roof opened fire on worshipers Wednesday night after sitting with them for at least an hour at a Bible study session.
Court documents said Roof “stood up” and “pulled out a handgun,” and began shooting. All nine victims were shot multiple times.
The warrant said that before Roof left, “he stood over a witness and uttered a racially inflammatory statement.”
In addition to Lance, 70, Sanders, 26, and Doctor, 49, also killed were the church’s lead pastor, 41-year-old state Sen. Clementa Pinckney, Cynthia Hurd, 54; Myra Thompson, 59; Susie Jackson, 87; Sharonda Singleton, 45; and Daniel Simmons Sr., 74.
CBS News has learned that Roof told a witness he spared her life so she could tell others what happened.
In addition to her, a woman and a 5-year-old boy reportedly also survived by playing dead.
CBS NEWS: More About The Victims
Roof has waived his right to counsel, meaning he will either represent himself or hire his own lawyer.
Florist Who Spotted Roof: It Was ‘Divine Intervention’
Roof was captured Thursday in Shelby, North Carolina. He was flown back to South Carolina to face charges in connection with the mass shooting.
Debbie Dills, who spotted Roof’s vehicle on her way to work at a florist’s shop, alerted authorities when she recognized the car and the driver of the black Hyundai in the next lane, CBS2’s Jessica Schneider reported.
Police said her quick thinking helped bring Roof into custody after an intense, nearly daylong manhunt.
She called it a matter of “divine intervention.”
“At first I thought, nah, it couldn’t be,” Dills said. “I didn’t want to overreact.”
But after she looked into the car and saw the driver, she began to get increasingly nervous.
“I got up a little bit closer to him and I seen the haircut that they were talking about, the bowl-like haircut,” she said.READ MORE: 2-Year-Old Shot In The Head In Newark
She quickly pulled off the main highway and called her friend and boss, Todd Frady, asking what to do.
Frady didn’t hesitate, grabbing a second phone and calling a friend who worked for the Kings Mountain Police Department on his personal cellphone. Frady said that officer, who police identified as Shane Davis, contacted the Shelby Police Department.
“She just had a gut feeling that something just wasn’t right,” Frady said.
Dills pulled back on to the highway and sped up to catch up with the suspect, this time getting a license plate number. She followed the car for about two more miles into Shelby while police confirmed that was the car they were looking for.
That’s when Dills said police pulled over the suspect near an Ingles grocery store along the four-lane highway in Shelby.
“I’m going to go ahead and tell you, I was scared,” Dills said. “I told Todd, if (the suspect) gets out of this car and starts shooting, you tell my family I’m gone (to heaven). I know where I’m going.”
Childhood Friend: Gunman Talked About ‘Plan’
Sources told CBS News police found a .45 caliber pistol in Roof’s possession and investigators found shell casings of the same caliber at the shooting scene.
Roof’s childhood friend, Joey Meek Jr., said he reconnected with Roof a few weeks ago. He said Roof told him he wanted to hurt a whole bunch of people and that he had a “plan.”
“He had told me that black people was taking over the country and that he wanted it to be segregation,” Meek said.
Meek said during their reunion a few weeks ago, Roof told him that he had used birthday money from his parents to buy a Glock pistol.
On his Facebook page, Roof displayed the flags of defeated white-ruled regimes, posing with a Confederate flags plate on his car and wearing a jacket with stitched-on flag patches from apartheid-era South Africa and Rhodesia, which is now black-led Zimbabwe.
His previous record includes misdemeanor drug and trespassing charges.
Meek called the FBI after recognizing Roof in the surveillance footage, down to the stained sweatshirt he wore while playing Xbox videogames in Meek’s home the morning of the attack.
The surveillance video showed Roof entering the church Wednesday night, and Charleston County Coroner Rae Wilson said he initially didn’t appear threatening.
An image from the Snapchat account of one of the church victims also apparently shows Roof at the bible study inside the church before the shooting.
“The suspect entered the group and was accepted by them, as they believed that he wanted to join them in this Bible study,” she said. Then, “he became very aggressive and violent.”
Tri-State Area Mourns
Late Friday in Charleston, mourners sang “This Little Light of Mine,” about a light that cannot be extinguished by the violence visited upon a house of worship. Meanwhile, vigils were held around the Tri-State following the massacre, and security was stepped up in some places.
As 1010 WINS’ Derricke Dennis reported, a candlelight vigil was held in East New York, Brooklyn, with dozens of African-American men, women and children joining together in prayer in songs – along with some of their white neighbors.