Reaction coming in after jury decides Roof should face death penalty

Reaction coming in after jury decides Roof should face death penalty
Dylann Roof made his own closing argument to the jury. (Sketch: Robert Maniscalco)
Dylann Roof made his own closing argument to the jury. (Sketch: Robert Maniscalco)

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Reaction has begun to come in after a federal jury agreed the man convicted of the Charleston church shooting should face the death penalty for the crime.

Dylann Roof, 22, was convicted in December of 33 federal charges in the July 17, 2015, shooting at Mother Emanuel AME Church. A jury took about two hours to reach agreement on the sentence.

U.S. Senator Tim Scott released the following statement after learning of the jury's decision:

"Nineteen months ago, a heartless murderer attempted to start a race war. He believed the damage his racist hands wrought would undo Charleston, South Carolina, and maybe even the nation.

Today that man was rightly sentenced to death. I want to thank the jurors for their service during this agonizing case.

As we heard the testimony of survivors and the families of those killed and injured at Mother Emanuel throughout this trial, they once again left me in awe. Hearing firsthand recollections of that night, learning even more about how much the families of those killed loved and cared for them, I am sure I am not the only one overwhelmed with emotion.

While we can never bring back the Emanuel 9, we can ensure their legacy will live on forever. We will continue to stand behind the families, and their message of unity. Today is a pivotal moment in their road towards some sort of closure, and we will all be there with them on that journey.

To the families of the Emanuel 9, I say thank you. In your loss, you have given all of us more than we ever thought possible."

Rep. Mark Sanford released this statement Tuesday afternoon:

"My prayers continue to go out to the families affected in the wake of this tragedy. Their actions inspired people at home in South Carolina - and around the world on the remarkable power that comes in forgiveness.

Today's verdict brings closure in the wake of remarkable tragedy. I am thankful that our legal processes have worked and that justice has been done in the wake of the unspeakable events that occurred at the hand of Mr. Roof at the Mother Emanuel AME church at home in Charleston."

Former Charleston mayor Joe Riley released this statement:

The unspeakable acts of this individual to some of the finest members of our community have been addressed by our civilization's system of justice. The judgment was equal to the horrific nature of the crimes. My hope is that this verdict gives some small measure of closure to the families of our beloved Emanuel nine. 

Roof's family issued the following statement Tuesday after the sentence was read:

"We are Dylann Roof's family. We will always love Dylann. We will struggle as long as we live to understand why he committed this horrible attack, which caused so much pain to so many good people. We wish to express the grief we feel for the victims of his crimes, and our sympathy to the families he has hurt. We continue to pray for the Emanuel AME families and the Charleston community."

Roof's defense team also issued a statement:

"We want to express our sympathy to all of the families who were grievously hurt by Dylann Roof's actions. Today's sentencing decision means that this case will not be over for a very long time. We are sorry that, despite our best efforts, the legal proceedings have shed so little light on the reasons for this tragedy."

Attorney General Loretta Lynch released the following statement on Tuesday:

"On June 17, 2015, Dylann Storm Roof sought out and opened fire on African-American parishioners engaged in worship and bible study at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.  He did so because of their race.  And he did so to interfere with their peaceful exercise of religion.  The victims in the case led lives as compassionate civic and religious leaders; devoted public servants and teachers; and beloved family members and friends.  They include a young man in the bloom of youth and an 87-year-old grandmother who still sang in the church choir.  We remember those who have suffered, and especially those that lost their lives: Cynthia Graham Hurd, 54; Susie Jackson, 87; Ethel Lance, 70; Rev. DePayne Middleton Doctor, 49; Rev. Clementa Pinckney, 41; Tywanza Sanders, 26; Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr., 74; Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, 45; and Myra Thompson, 59.   

"Today, a jury of his peers considered the actions Roof took on that fateful day, and they rendered a verdict that will hold him accountable for his choices. 

"No verdict can bring back the nine we lost that day at Mother Emanuel.  And no verdict can heal the wounds of the five church members who survived the attack or the souls of those who lost loved ones to Roof's callous hand.  But we hope that the completion of the prosecution provides the people of Charleston – and the people of our nation – with a measure of closure.  We thank the jurors for their service, the people of Charleston for their strength and support, and the law enforcement community in South Carolina and throughout the country for their vital work on this case."

U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel will hold a sentencing hearing Wednesday morning.

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