The mother of the Emanuel AME Church shooter, Dylann Roof, suffered a heart attack after hearing the testimony of one survivor, who recalled how the white supremacist entered the Bible study session and waited for worshipers to stand and close their eyes in prayer before opening fire, killing nine.
According to NBC, the 22-year-old's mother, Amelia Cowles, collapsed and said "I'm sorry" several times during the opening of her son's federal death penalty trial on Wednesday after hearing the heart-rending accounts of those who survived the massacre, which took place June 17, 2015 in Charleston, SC.
The Washington Post reports that survivor Felicia Sanders, one of just three people to survive the bloody massacre, fought back tears as she recalled the horrific incident saying a "Bible study group had welcomed him, and he just sat there the whole time, evil, evil, evil as can be."
"He is evil. There is no place for him except the pit of hell," said Sanders, adding that during his rampage, Roof has said he was going to kill himself. "I was counting on that," she said, glaring at him from the witness stand.
She recalled how Roof, hoping to start a "race war", unflinchingly pumped multiple bullets into the body of her already wounded son, Tywanza Sanders, 26, even as he told Roof he didn't have to kill.
"Tywanza Sanders was my son. But Tywanza Sanders was my hero. Tywanza was my hero. ... May God have mercy on you," she said.
Sanders said that before killing her son, Roof said, "I have to do this because y'all are raping our women and taking over the world."
"That's when he put about five bullets in my son," she said. "Seventy-seven shots in that room, from someone we thought was looking for the Lord."
She shared with the court how she cowered under a table, clutching her 11-year-old granddaughter. To fool Roof into thinking she was dead, she rubbed her leg in the blood of her aunt, Susie Jackson, 87, who was already dead beside her.
As Roof left the church, said Sanders, she watched her son move toward her aunt, begging for water because he could not breathe.
"When he reached Aunt Susie he grabbed a handful of her hair and took his last breath," she said through tears. "I watched my son come in this world and I watched my son leave this world."
During the trial, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Richardson said Roof "left behind a scene that nobody can fathom. He walked out calmly, looking both ways ... Expecting law enforcement to respond to his horrid attack."
Richardson said that the government will prove that Roof's "attack was cold and calculated" and was "racist retribution for perceived offenses against the white race."
According to the federal indictment, Roof hoped the attack would "increase racial tensions across the Nation" and bring "retribution for perceived wrongs he believed African-Americans had committed against white people."
Currently, Roof is charged with 33 counts, including hate crimes resulting in death. He will also face a death penalty trial in state court scheduled for mid-January.
In addition to Sanders' son, the other victims of the massacre are: the pastor of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, the Rev. Clementa C. Pinckney; the Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, 45, a high school speech pathologist and track coach; Cynthia Hurd, 54, a county library manager; Ethel Lee Lance, 70, a longtime church member and sexton; the Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor, 49, a college enrollment counselor; the Rev. Daniel Lee Simmons Sr., 74, a retired pastor who filled in part-time at the church; and Myra Thompson, 59, an English teacher and guidance counselor.