(CHARLESTON, S.C.) — The uncle of a 21-year-old man accused of opening fire inside a Charleston church — killing nine people — says he will “push the button myself” if his nephew receives the death penalty, which is legal in South Carolina.
Carson Cowles said he can’t forgive Dylann Roof, who was arrested Thursday after he allegedly opened fire on a Bible study group at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. He was taken into custody by authorities in Shelby, North Carolina, about 250 miles away, but has since been extradited to South Carolina.
“I’ll be the one to push the button. If he’s found guilty, I’ll be the one to push the button myself,” Cowles said. “If what I am hearing is true, he needs to pay for it.”
Roof was expected to be charged initially with one count of murder to start the legal process, though more charges are expected to be added later, the local prosecutor’s office told ABC affiliate WCIV-TV.
He was set to be placed in protective custody ahead of a Friday bail hearing at the Al Cannon Detention Center in North Charleston, said Maj. Eric Watson, the spokesman for the Charleston County Sheriff’s office.
The jail’s protocol dictates that he would be placed on suicide watch immediately, Watson said.
Given the high-profile nature of the crime, and sensitivity about the crime itself, Watson also said that Roof will not have contact with the general jail population for his own safety.
Roof’s first hearing is expected to be done via CCTV link Friday afternoon. Another hearing is expected in several weeks, Watson said.
South Carolina law dictates that he would not be allowed out on bond.
Experts say that the case could last between six months if he were to plead guilty or up to three years if the death penalty — which is legal in South Carolina — is pursued.
It was unclear if Roof had a lawyer and attempts to reach him were unsuccessful.
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