Dylann Roof’s support system in court on Wednesday was significantly smaller than those who survived the attack he is accused of perpetrating.
Only a few Roof supporters showed up on the opening day of his federal death penalty trial. Franklin Bennett Roof, Roof’s father, was there, along with a woman believed to be his ex-wife, Roof’s mother. Roof’s paternal grandparents, Joseph and Lucy Roof, were in court later in the day.
Roof, 22, seemed unfazed by their presence. Throughout the day, he stared directly at the table before him or at his lap, rarely breaking his gaze from either. He was not seen looking back at his relatives.
Roof’s parents met behind closed doors with the defense attorneys before court started, officials said.
After gripping opening arguments, the judge called for a lunch break, and the woman sitting next to Roof’s father collapsed over a bench, sobbing uncontrollably.
“I’m sorry,” she said through tears over and over. “I’m so sorry.”
The woman, who could not be positively identified by reporters or court officials as Roof’s mother, ultimately was taken out on a stretcher by paramedics.
Court security officers temporarily blocked anyone from going up the elevators until paramedics could bring the woman down and away from the courtroom.
Neither Franklin Bennett Roof nor the woman returned to the courtroom after the lunch break. The grandparents, however, made their first appearance for the afternoon proceedings.
Roof’s father and grandparents lived in Columbia when the shootings happened. His mother lived near Eastover.