Dylann Roof unrepentant over Charleston church killings, but victims' families forgive him

A capacity crowd fills the pews during a prayer service for Wednesday's shooting victims held at the Morris Brown AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, on June 18, 2015.Reuters

Dylann Roof remained unrepentant as he faced charges for the killing of nine people inside the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, last Wednesday evening.

Roof, 21, was charged on Friday with nine counts of murder and possession of a weapon.

He fled after the mass shooting, described by authorities as a hate crime, but was captured by authorities in North Carolina Thursday morning.

Roof is a high school dropout with a criminal record including trespassing and drugs, according to the Washington Post.

Authorities said Roof confessed to the killing, expressed strong anti-black views and was unrepentant. The unnamed officials said Roof said he thought twice about carrying out the shooting when he was with the people who were in a Bible study in the church.

Roof said he "almost didn't go through with it because they were so nice to him," but he "had to complete my mission."

He attended his bond hearing Friday from jail through closed-circuit television. Relatives of the victims said they forgave him.

Felicia Sanders, whose son Tywanza was killed in the shooting, told Roof, "We welcomed you Wednesday night in our Bible study with welcome arms. Tywanza Sanders was my son. May God have mercy on you."

Nadine Collier, daughter of 70-year-old shooting victim Ethel Lance, told Roof, "I forgive you. You took something very precious from me. I will never talk to her again. I will never, ever hold her again. But I forgive you. And have mercy on your soul."

Roof's family issued a statement, saying "words cannot express our shock, grief and disbelief as to what happened that night."

As Roof was shooting people in the church, he was quoted as saying, "You all are taking over our country. Y'all want something to pray about? I'll give you something to pray about."

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said on NBC's "Today" show that they want Roof to be meted the death penalty.

Other victims in the shooting were Rev. Clemente Pinckney, South Carolina state senator; Cynthia Hurd, 54, manager at the St. Andrews Regional Library; Depayne Middletown Doctor, 49, retiree; Susie Jackson, 87, member of the church; Rev. Dr. Daniel Simmons Sr., 74, pastor; Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, girls track team coach; and Myra Thompson, 59, pastor.