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South Carolina still reeling after devastating hate crime

Wracked by grief, Charleston is struggling to recover in the wake of the shooting at Emmanuel AME church. During a bond hearing for gunman Dylann Roof, family members of victims presented a portrait of grief, strength, and forgiveness.

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    Shockwaves from the murders at a black church kept rippling across Charleston, South Carolina, and the nation today. A police affidavit said the gunman shot his victims multiple times, but several tearful family members offered him forgiveness.

    Hari Sreenivasan has our report.


    All through the day, a memorial of flowers, balloons, and notes kept growing outside Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. People streamed to the site, popularly known as Mother Emanuel, many of them still shaken by Tuesday night's mass shooting.

  • MARY SMALLS, Member, Emanuel AME Church:

    The oldest lady who got killed in this church was my momma's girlfriend. They was in the choir together. And just — this hurts a lot, because this is a family church. I can't take it.


    Charleston's mayor of 40 years, Joseph Riley, was also there, condemning the killings and defending his city.

    JOSEPH RILEY, Mayor of Charleston, South Carolina: This hateful person came into this community with some crazy idea he would be able to divide, and all he did was make us more united and love each other even more.


    The city plans a vigil tonight for the victims. In all, nine people died in the attack, among them, the church's minister, Clementa Pinckney, who was also a state senator.

    The accused gunman, 21-year-old Dylann Roof, was caught yesterday in Shelby, North Carolina, more than 200 miles away, and flown back to Charleston. He appeared today via video link at a bond hearing on nine counts of murder and weapons charges. Some of the victims' relatives, appearing off-camera, made tearful statements of grief and forgiveness.

    NADINE COLLIER, Daughter of Victim: You took something really precious away from me. I will never talk to her ever again. I will never be able to hold her again. But I forgive you and have mercy on your soul.

    You have hurt me. You have hurt a lot of people. But God forgives you, and I forgive you.


    Roof said little, and was ordered held on $1 million bond.

    Afterward, solicitor Scarlett Wilson promised a vigorous prosecution.

  • SCARLETT WILSON, South Carolina Solicitor:

    My mission is to serve justice for this community and especially for the victims in this case. And we will do it efficiently and effectively, and we will do it behind the scenes, so that we can be successful.


    It was widely reported that Roof confessed to the shootings, and that he hoped to trigger a race war. A one-time friend, Joey Meek, says he talked to Roof just recently.

    JOEY MEEK, Former Friend of Dylann Roof: It was a race thing, because he had told me that he — that the black people was taking over the country and that the — that he wanted it to be segregation, that white-on-black — or white with the white and the black with the black.


    Even so, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican presidential candidate, joined visitors to the church, still struggling to understand.

    SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC), Presidential Candidate: Crazy people abound. And that's what this guy was, a crazy guy, not in terms of being mentally incompetent, just being mean and hateful and crazy. I can't explain it. There's just no way I can explain what would motivate a person to do this.


    Whatever the explanation, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley told NBC today there's only one way the case can end.

    GOV. NIKKI HALEY (R), South Carolina: These are nine families that are struggling. This is a state that is hurt by the fact that nine people innocently were killed. We will — absolutely will want him to have the death penalty.


    Far from Charleston, the tragedy sparked an outpouring of sympathy and cries for action from around the country. In Philadelphia last night, Christians, Jews and Muslims joined for an interfaith service.

  • MAN:

    To me, it's a senseless crime that needs to end. At this point, this has to end.

  • WOMAN:

    We need to take this as a point to walk more in love in our community and less in hate, but not just to sit idly by on the sidewalk, sideline and just be sad about it.


    Even comedian and Daily Show" host Jon Stewart pushed jokes aside.

    JON STEWART, Host, "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart": I honestly have — have nothing, other than just sadness once again that we have to peer into the abyss of the depraved violence that we do to each other in the nexus of a just gaping racial wound that will not heal, yet we pretend doesn't exist.


    Back in South Carolina today, the NAACP called for the Confederate Flag to be removed from the state capitol grounds in Columbia, a longstanding issue in the state.

    For "PBS NewsHour," I'm Hari Sreenivasan.

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