At 9.06pm on a warm June night in 2015, a church door opened and a young blonde man stepped out with a gun in his hand.
Inside that very place of worship, the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, lay the bodies of nine people who had come for prayer and been left for dead.
The chilling surveillance footage of Dylann Roof entering and exiting the church before killing the parishioners who had welcomed him to a bible study session was shown to jurors during his trial on Thursday.
Roof, 22, faces 33 federal charges – including violating hate crime laws and religious freedoms – as well as the death penalty for June 17, 2015 shooting, which he later said was an attempt to start a race war.
He is not denying the murders but is trying to avoid being given the death penalty, the sentence prosecutors are asking for.
Roof’s team tried to have a mistrial declared after the first day of proceedings when survivor Felicia Sanders abhorred him as: ‘evil, evil, evil as can be.’
Sanders, one of three people to survive the massacre, watched Roof gun down her son Tywanza and 87-year-old aunt Susie Jackson.
She told jurors on Wednesday the ‘only place’ for the gunman was ‘in the pit of hell’ – a comment his lawyers said was ‘inappropriate’.
On Thursday, graphic photographs of the blood-soaked scene Roof left behind were shown to jurors.
They were given a 360-degree view of the scene. Bodies lay strewn across the floor, victims’ clothes ripped open from first responders’ frantic efforts to save them.
One photo showed a loaded gun magazine laying right next to an open Bible. Other images captured the bullets lodged in the church’s walls, floors, and furniture.
So dramatic was the first day of the trial that Roof’s biological mother, who did not raise him but is attending proceedings, collapsed in court from a heart attack.
Roof’s lawyers’ motion for a mistrial was denied by the trial judge within hours on Thursday.
As proceedings continued, jurors were shown surveillance footage showing him enter the church at 8.16pm with a fanny pack around his waist.
Inside, Roof pulled a Glock .45 from the bag and turned it on the parishioners, all of whom were black.
He was seen leaving 52 minutes later carrying the gun in his hand and getting into his car. Roof was arrested the following day after being pulled over by police.
Nineteen other clips were shown including videos of victims arriving at church and later being carried out on stretchers.
Jurors were also shown graphic photographs of inside the church.
About 50 relatives of the victims were in the courtroom and saw photos of Roof’s bloody carnage on the televisions screens.
Cries could be heard in the courtroom’s gallery and one family member momentarily left, according to The Charleston Post and Courier.
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