SHELBY, NC (WBTV) - A day after Dylann Roof was convicted of all 33 federal charges against him, including first degree murder, attempted murder, and hate crimes, a local pastor is calling for the continuation of the healing process.
About a year-and-half before, and more than 200 miles away in Shelby, Reverend Ray Lockhart was one of the pastors asked by Shelby Police Chief Jeff Ledford to help keep the peace among the crowd gathered outside the Shelby Police Station.
Hours earlier, Dylann Roof had been arrested on Highway 74 in Shelby and taken into custody, before eventually being extradited to South Carolina - all in the morning after he shot and killed nine worshipers at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston.
"Just help the crowd to be calm, let them know they were working hard to get the issue solved," Lockhart said.
It took jurors about two hours to convict Roof.
After hearing Roof had been convicted of all federal charges, Lockhart said he hopes it brings closure to the families of the nine people who were killed that June night.
"I'm glad for the community where it happened in and those families because, to me, it helps bring closure to those families," Lockhart said.
Now Lockhart says the Charleston community, and nation as a whole, need to continue the healing process. He said the key to that is doing what the family of the nine who were killed have done: forgive.
"I think they set a great example for our country in general of forgiving people. Unforgiveness doesn't hurt that person, it hurts you. They realized it would cripple their lives if they went around not willing to forgive," Lockhart said.
The death penalty is on the table for Roof, but that's something Lockhart isn't thinking about.
"It's not going to bring the family members back. We have to look beyond, and even what caused him to get to this point," Lockhart said.
Roof's sentencing phase begins on January 3.