Nikki Haley seeks death penalty for US church shooter

Washington, June 20 (IANS) As the white young man who killed nine people at a historic US black church faced a court, many victims’ families forgave him, but South Carolina’s Indian American governor Nikki Haley sought the death penalty for him.

Dylann Storm Roof, 21, who is reported to have confessed to Wednesday night’s horrific massacre at at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, with vague plans “to start a race war” appeared in court via video Friday.

Roof, who has been charged with nine counts of murder and possession of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime, was expressionless, as Magistrate James Gosnell Jr., opened a bond hearing in Charleston.

The judge set a $1 million bond on the possession of a firearm count but no bond on the murder charges.

Roof spoke only a few words in response to the judge’s questions and did not enter a plea.

He showed no emotion as family members of his victims addressed the court and Roof, expressing both anger and forgiveness.

“I will never be able to hold her again, but I forgive you,” a daughter of Ethel Lance said. “And have mercy on your soul. You hurt me. You hurt a lot of people, but God forgives you, and I forgive you.”

Felicia Sanders, mother of victim Tywanza Sanders, said that “every fiber in my body hurts, and I will never be the same.”

“As we said in the Bible study, we enjoyed you,” she said of Roof’s time at the church before the massacre. “But may God have mercy on you.”

However, calling the shooting spree a hate crime, Haley said Friday that Roof should face the death penalty.

“This is an absolute hate crime,” Haley, a Republican, said in an interview Friday with the “Today” show.

“And when I’ve been talking with investigators as we’ve been going through the interviews, they said they looked pure evil in the eye yesterday. Without question this is hate.”

“We absolutely will want him to have the death penalty,” she said.

Louisiana’s Indian-American Governor Bobby Jindal supported the death penalty for Roof.

“This gunman was filled with hate,” he told reporters shortly after speaking at the “Road to Majority” conference Friday.

Meanwhile, thousands of people attended a vigil Friday in honour of the nine victims of the shooting.

The service at the College of Charleston’s arena began with the Charleston Symphony Orchestra, followed by a procession with the Charleston Pipe and Drum playing “Amazing Grace,” CBS affiliate WCSC-TV reported.

“Our sisters and brothers who are gone would say to let our light shine while we have it,” the Rev. Jeremy Rutledge told the audience.

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