Tywanza Sanders put himself in the line of fire and told shooter ‘You don’t have to do this’ after attacker said was going to kill everybody in church basement
Tywanza Sanders, 26, the youngest victim of the deadly shooting at the Emanuel AME church in Charleston, died trying to shield the oldest victim, his great aunt Susie Jackson, 87, from the barrel of a gun. That simple act of courage has emerged as perhaps the enduring image of the victims’ resilience in the face of the hatred unleashed by the shooter on Wednesday night.
At about 9pm that night, as the Bible studies class attended by Sanders, Jackson, and 10 other church regulars drew to a close, a stranger who had walked into their midst about an hour previously pulled out a gun. Dylann Roof, 21, is charged with murdering nine of the congregants, each of the deceased shot multiple times.
The description of Roof’s alleged offences released by the Charleston police department on Friday suggests that he stood over one of the survivors of the attack “and uttered a racially inflammatory statement”.
Sanders’ actions stand in stark contrast to the alleged racial animosity of his assailant. Accounts originating from the three survivors of the attack indicate that the young man remained strikingly calm as he tried to talk the shooter out of what he was about to do.
“You don’t have to do this,” Sanders said.
When the shooter moved to pull the trigger anyway, saying he was going to kill everyone in the room, Sanders is said to have leapt in front of the gun, putting himself between the firearm and his great aunt. He took the first bullet, but the killer reloaded and they both died.
Sanders’ mother, Felicia Sanders, was also at the Bible studies meeting on Wednesday. She survived by playing dead.
At Roof’s bond hearing on Friday she put the loss of her child in the most simple terms. “Tywanza is my son, but he was my hero.”
Source: Guardian | Ed Pilkington in Charleston