Dylann Roof trial hits close to home for WLOX employee

Dylann Roof trial hits close to home for WLOX employee

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - David Bennett works as a content specialist for WLOX News Now.  He's quickly made a home in South Mississippi, but before that, home was Charleston, South Carolina.

Bennett attended the historically black Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, the scene of the horrific shootings which left nine people dead.

One of the victims was his friend.

"His name was Tywanza Sanders. We used to call him Wanza because Tywanza is kind of hard to say. I went to high school with him, college with him. He was a little older than me so he was always a couple of grades ahead of me, but he was very outgoing, very energetic, a nice guy," Bennett recalled.

The massacre left Bennett in disbelief.

"I remember when I was in school, I was always afraid of a school shooting. I never would have thought it would have been a church shooting," he said.

The racial component of the shootings - with Dylann Roof a self avowed white supremacist - makes Bennett explore his own feelings about race relations.

"It kind of makes you uneasy. Sometimes you think about it, it makes you angry. Sometimes you feel sad that other people feel that way about you," Bennett said.

But, he's also realistic about those relations.

"Growing up in Charleston, South Carolina, there is racism. I wouldn't say it's blatant, but you know about it. And for something like that to happen, it just kind of confirms that," Bennett noted.

If convicted, Roof could be put to death. Bennett has feelings about that as well, saying, "I consider myself to be a Christian, so I'll never say that somebody deserves to die, regardless of what they did. That's between him and God."

And while it's hard to find any good coming from the massacre, Bennett feels there just might be.

"The fact that he was charged and arrested so quickly lets those people know that at the same time, no, it's not ok to be like this and that's not something that we tolerate in this country."

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