Dylann Roof has been found guilty of murdering nine black worshippers in a racially motivated massacre during a Bible study meeting.
The 22-year-old South Carolina man was full of hate and “immense racial ignorance” when he opened fire last year at a Charleston church, a prosecutor said in court Thursday.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Nathan Williams ridiculed Roof’s racist journal entries, in which he referred to himself as “brave.”
Only the victims who tried to stop the young man exhibited bravery, Williams said. Inside the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, Roof unleashed 77 rounds during the June 17, 2015 attack.
"Those people couldn't see the hatred in his heart any more than they could see the .45-caliber handgun and the eight magazines concealed around his waist," Williams said, according to The Associated Press.
Defense attorney David Bruck called no witnesses in his client’s trial. In his closing argument, he asked jurors to have mercy on Roof, saying he was a suicidal loner who didn’t understand his actions.
In his confession to authorities, and in his journal, Roof said he wanted his killings to bring back segregation or ignite a race war.
Prosecutor Williams recounted how Roof had sat in his car outside the church for 28 minutes, methodically loading ammunition. He then sat in the prayer meeting for 45 minutes, talking to worshippers and admitting his racist beliefs.
When the group closed their eyes and bowed their heads in a final prayer, Roof started shooting, Williams said.
Family of the victims wept in court Thursday during closing arguments as crime scene photos were shown to jurors.
It remains to be decided whether Roof will face life imprisonment or the death penalty. He is scheduled to be sentenced next month.