Emanuel Kidega Samson intended to kill at least ten white churchgoers when he attacked the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ in September 2017. This according to a prosecutor’s statement Monday in Samson’s trial. During his shooting rampage, he murdered a thirty-eight-year-old woman.

Minister David “Joey” Spann was shot in the chest and in the hand. His wife was shot as well. However, he told reporters, “If I had the opportunity to talk to [Samson], I would. And I would try to help him.”

In June 2015, Dylann Roof attacked the Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charlotte, South Carolina, killing nine people. He later told authorities that he hoped to start a race war.

The opposite happened.

At Roof’s bond hearing two days later, Rev. Anthony Thompson told the man who murdered his wife, “I forgive you. And my family forgives you. But we would like you to take this opportunity to repent. Repent. Confess. Give your life to the One who matters most: Jesus Christ, so that He can change it and change your attitude. And no matter what happens to you, then you’ll be OK. Do that and you’ll be better off than you are right now.”

Several other family members at the hearing offered their forgiveness as well.

City and state police prepared for racial riots, fearing the bloodshed and violence witnessed in Ferguson, Baltimore, Berkeley, and other cities following racially motivated crimes. But Charleston responded with acts of love, kindness, and grace.

Makeshift flower memorials grew in front of Emanuel Church. Donors pledged thousands of dollars to help the victims’ families. Thousands gathered for an evening vigil and prayer service. More than fifteen thousand people of all colors and faiths joined hands to create a human bridge that stretched for two miles.

The forgiveness Rev. Thompson and other family members offered Dylann Roof became a model the entire city followed.

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