Dylann Roof Deserves to Be in 'Pit of Hell,' Charleston Church Massacre Survivor Says at Trial

Dylann Roof, Felicia Sanders
Accused Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof (L) and survivor Felicia Sanders (R) |

Felicia Sanders, one of just three people to survive the bloody massacre that left nine others dead during a Bible study at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in South Carolina last year, said accused shooter Dylann Roof, 22, deserves to be in the "pit of Hell."

"He is evil. There is no place for him except the pit of hell," said Sanders, who was the first witness to testify in Roof's federal death penalty trial on Wednesday, according to The New York Times.

During his rampage, Roof, she testified, said he was going to kill himself. "I was counting on that," she said, glaring at him from the witness stand.

Just two days after the June 17, 2015, massacre, many relatives of Roof's slain victim's offered him forgiveness, Sanders at the time, however, only offered him God's mercy.

"We welcomed you Wednesday night in our Bible study with welcome arms," an emotional Sanders had said back then, according to The Washington Post. "Tywanza Sanders was my son. But Tywanza Sanders was my hero. Tywanza was my hero. ... May God have mercy on you."

Despite the mercy she prayed God would have on her son's killer, Sanders testified on Wednesday to how she was forced to watch as Roof pumped multiple bullets into the body of her already wounded son, Tywanza Sanders, 26, even as he told Roof he didn't have to kill.

From the witness stand, Sanders looked directly at Roof, her face covered with tears as she gave her testimony, according to The Washington Post.

"The defendant over there, with his head hanging down, refusing to look at me right now, said, 'I have to do this because y'all are raping our women and taking over the world.'"

"That's when he put about five bullets in my son," she said. "Seventy-seven shots in that room, from someone we thought was looking for the Lord."

She explained that the Bible study group had welcomed him, and "he just sat there the whole time, evil, evil, evil as can be."

Sanders testified that as she cowered under a table clutching her 11-year-old granddaughter, she rubbed her leg in the pooling blood of her aunt, Susie Jackson, 87, who was already dead beside her so Roof would think they were dead too.

As Roof left the church, said Sanders, she watched her son move toward her aunt, begging for water because he could not breathe.

"When he reached Aunt Susie," Sanders said, wailing from the witness stand, according to the Times, "he grabbed a handful of her hair and took his last breath. I watched my son come in this world and I watched my son leave this world."

"We will prove to you that the defendant's attack was cold and calculating," lead prosecutor, Julius N. Richardson, an assistant United States attorney, said, according to the Times. "It was done with malice in his heart, in his mind, racist retribution for perceived offenses against the white race."

Roof, whose offer to plead guilty in exchange for a sentence of life without parole, is charged with 33 counts, including hate crimes resulting in death. He will also face a death penalty trial in state court scheduled for mid-January. 

In addition to Sanders' son, the other victims of the massacre are: the pastor of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, the Rev. Clementa C. Pinckney; the Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, 45, a high school speech pathologist and track coach; Cynthia Hurd, 54, a county library manager; Ethel Lee Lance, 70, a longtime church member and sexton; the Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor, 49, a college enrollment counselor; the Rev. Daniel Lee Simmons Sr., 74, a retired pastor who filled in part-time at the church; and Myra Thompson, 59, an English teacher and guidance counselor.

Contact: Follow Leonardo Blair on Twitter: @leoblair Follow Leonardo Blair on Facebook: LeoBlairChristianPost

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