Survivors, Felecia Sanders and Polly Sheppard want to understand why this happened, but "hold no malice"

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Dylann Roof, the 21-year-old gunman who allegedly opened fire in a historically black church in Charleston, waited for the churchgoers to close their eyes in prayer before shooting.

“We were just about to say the prayer to be released,” Felecia Sanders, one of only three survivors told Lester Holt on NBC. “He caught us with our eyes closed. I never told nobody this.”

According to the New York Daily News, Roof attended the church service and sat quietly, showing no signs he was there to commit a racially charged massacre – until he allegedly pulled out a .45 caliber semiautomatic pistol and informed his victims that he was there to kill black people, leaving nine dead.

Sanders son, Tywanza, was one of them.

“My hero. He took a lot of bullets,” she continued. “And my granddaughter was hollering, saying she was so afraid. I was trying to keep everyone close to me as calm as I could.”

Roof was initially charged with nine counts of murder and one count of possessing a weapon. In July, he was indicted on three additional charges of attempted murder in connection with the three survivors – Polly Shepherd, Sanders and her 11-year-old granddaughter.

The June 17 rampage is being considered a hate crime. South Carolina prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Roof – who pleaded not guilty – and intend to present evidence that prove his lack of remorse for the murders.

While Sanders vows to be at every one of Roof’s hearings and wants to know, “if we were so nice to you, why did you do it,” Sheppard, another survivor, said she has “no malice” for the shooter and doesn’t believe he should get the death penalty.

“I don’t believe in the death penalty,” Sheppard said. “I believe he should have to think about this the rest of his life. He’s got a long time, if he’s healthy. I believe in repentance.”