Dylann Roof, perpetrator of the 2015 Charleston church shooting, has been sentenced to death by lethal injection after a lengthy trial.
Roof, who shot and killed nine people at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in South Carolina, was caught the day after his crimes by police forces at his home on June 18th. He confessed to carrying out the racially-motivated spree shooting in the hopes of provoking an American race-war.
Roof was convicted last month of 33 federal charges, including murder and hate crimes. They jury returned after deliberating over his sentence for about three hours on Tuesday to announce their decision that he should be executed. He is the first person to face execution for a federal hate crime conviction.
Roof was given the chance by the court to plead for his life in front of jurors. Instead he simply told them: “I still feel like I had to do it.” Roof appeared emotionless and apathetic upon hearing the verdict.
Roof’s infamous website contained photos of the 22-year-old posing with symbols of white supremacy and neo-Nazism, brandishing a confederate flag and the 45 calibre Glock handgun he used to slay the parishioners, as well as his personal a manifesto in which he outlined his views towards black people and other minorities he perceived as a threat to Aryan dominance.
Melvin Graham, who lost his sister Cynthia Graham Hurd in the attacks, had this to say: “It’s a hard thing to know that someone is going to lose their life, but when you look at the totality of what happened, it’s hard to say that this person deserves to live when the nine others don’t.
“How do you justify saving one life when he took nine? He just took them away from us.”
Roof’s family also issued a statement, saying: “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 many families he has hurt. We continue to pray for the Emanuel AME families and the Charleston community.”
The last people sentenced to a federal death row were Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in 2015 and Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh in 1997.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Charleston affected by this attack, and all other minorities who have felt threatened and persecuted with this, and other, hate crimes.