"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed, but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." - Oscar Wilde

Friday, June 19, 2015

Charleston Attack Suspect Charged With 9 Murder Counts; SC Gov. Calls for Death Penalty

Dylann Storm Roof
Dylann Storm Roof
CHARLESTON, S.C. — The 21-year-old man who is suspected of killing nine people in one of the South’s most storied black churches was charged Friday with nine counts of murder and possession of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime, the police said, offenses that could lead to the death penalty.

The Charleston Police Department announced the charges just hours before the suspect, Dylann Storm Roof, a white man who returned to Charleston under heavy guard on Thursday night after his arrest in North Carolina, was expected to go before a judge on Friday afternoon for a bond hearing, where he will hear the charges against him.

South Carolina’s governor, Nikki R. Haley, on Friday called for Mr. Roof to face the death penalty.

“This is a state that is hurt by the fact that nine people innocently were killed,” Ms. Haley said, adding that the state “absolutely will want him to have the death penalty.”

The governor, who spoke on NBC’s “Today” show, described Wednesday’s shooting rampage as “an absolute hate crime.”

Greg Mullen, the chief of police in Charleston, has called the shooting a hate crime, and Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch said the Justice Department was investigating that possibility.

On Thursday, President Obama spoke of the shooting and lamented what he called the easy access to guns, an issue he has tried and failed to address with legislation.

“At some point, we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries,” Mr. Obama said. He added: “It is in our power to do something about it.”


Source: The New York Times, Alan Blinder, June 19, 2015


South Carolina's Governor Calls for Charleston Shooting Suspect to Face Death Penalty

South Carolina's governor on Friday called for the 21-year-old man who is suspected of killing 9 people in 1 of the South's most historic black churches to face the death penalty.

"This is a state that is hurt by the fact that 9 people innocently were killed," Gov. Nikki R. Haley said, adding that the state "absolutely will want him to have the death penalty."

The governor, who spoke on NBC's "Today" show, described Wednesday's shooting rampage as "an absolute hate crime."

"This is the worst hate that I've seen - and that the country has seen - in a long time,' she said. "We will fight this, and we will fight this as hard as we can."

Her comments came hours before the suspect, Dylann Storm Roof, a white man who returned to Charleston under heavy guard on Thursday night after his arrest in North Carolina, was expected to go before a judge on Friday afternoon for a bond hearing, where he will hear the charges against him.

Mr. Roof, who friends said had a recent history of expressing racist opinions, is widely expected to be prosecuted for murder, an offense that can carry the death penalty in this state. Greg Mullen, the chief of police in Charleston, has called the shooting a hate crime, and Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch said the Justice Department was investigating that possibility.

At Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church on Calhoun Street, where the shooting took place, scores of bouquets rested on the sidewalk, along with wreaths and a simple wooden cross. Gold, silver and white balloons were tied to the church's ironwork; nearby, nine white ribbons, each bearing the name of a victim, were tied to a fence.

Just after 9 p.m. on Thursday, about 24 hours after the gunfire erupted inside the church during Bible study, a woman stood across the street and briefly played the bagpipes while others in the crowd, a mix of residents and tourists, held small candles.

Earlier, 2 prominent South Carolina politicians - Senator Lindsey Graham and Representative Mark Sanford, a former governor - paid their respects outside the church, which remained cordoned off by yellow police tape.

Mr. Graham said that his niece had been a classmate of Mr. Roof's years ago.

"I don't know if he finished high school, but they went through elementary school together, or middle school, and I think part of high school," Mr. Graham said. "But you know, it's got to blow you away thinking" that a classmate is now accused of killing 9 people.

On Thursday, President Obama spoke of the shooting and lamented what he called the easy access to guns, an issue he has tried and failed to address with legislation.

"At some point, we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries," Mr. Obama said. He added: "It is in our power to do something about it. I say that recognizing the politics in this town foreclose a lot of the avenues right now. But it would be wrong for us not to acknowledge it. And at some point it's going to be important for the American people to come to grips with it."

In the interview on Friday, Ms. Haley, a strong proponent of gun rights, deflected a question about whether the shooting would change her position on the issue.

"Anytime there is traumatic situation, people want something to blame. They always want something to go after," she said. "There is 1 person to blame here. We are going to focus on that one person," she added, referring to Mr. Roof.

Many outside the church spoke softly and made few mentions of Mr. Roof. Instead, they focused on the nine victims, who were identified on Thursday and included the pastor, who was also a state senator, a high school track coach and a librarian.

Elsewhere in the region, people who helped to organize remembrances said recovery would not be easy.

"Many people are struggling with this right now, and so we think it's the time to start the healing process, just a small step," Jimmy Huskey, the principal of Goose Creek High School, said on Thursday before a vigil for Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, 45, an employee of the school who was killed in the attack.

Although both organized and impromptu expressions of grief have played out across the city since Wednesday night, a formal prayer vigil was scheduled for Friday evening at a Charleston arena.

The service was to take place hours after Mr. Roof's initial court appearance in South Carolina. He waived extradition in North Carolina and was booked into a Charleston County jail shortly before 7:30 p.m. Thursday after arriving, in a striped uniform, in a convoy of police vehicles.

A handful of onlookers joined a crowd of journalists outside the jail. Hikaym Rivers, 15, gripped a sign, its letters handwritten in black ink: "Your evil doing did not break our community! You made us stronger!"

"We're supporting our community, and we're taking a stand that no one can just take this away from us," he said after Mr. Roof disappeared into the county jail. "It's our peace of mind."

But in downtown Charleston, there was already talk of the long-term anxiety the shooting might stir.

"The question that I have is, is it going to happen again?" said Jeremy Dye, a 35-year-old taxi driver and security guard from North Charleston who said he knew three people who were killed. "It's always going to be fear. People in Charleston are going to have that fear now forever. It's not going to wash away. They're going to be worried about, 'O.K., when's the next church going to get hit?'"

Source: New York Times, June 19, 2015

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