Christian musician Marcus Stanley’s heartfelt Facebook message to Charleston church shooting suspect Dylann Roof went viral on social media this week. Users praised Stanley’s compassion toward the 21-year-old, who purportedly confessed to authorities that he shot and killed nine people Wednesday night at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.
Authorities arrested Roof in Shelby, North Carolina Thursday morning after a massive overnight manhunt. Prior to Roof’s capture, Stanley, who was temporarily paralyzed in a gang-related shooting in 2004, urged Roof to seek forgiveness for his alleged actions.
“I don’t look at you with the eyes of hatred, or judge you by your appearance or race, but I look at you as a human being that made a horrible decision to take the lives of 9 living & breathing people … Give your heart to Jesus and confess your sins with a heart of forgiveness,” Stanley wrote to Roof. The message’s full text can be viewed on Buzzfeed News.
The only comment on Dylann Roof's Facebook is a message from black gospel singer Marcus Stanley pic.twitter.com/JtrUERJ7im
â€” ally jordan (@allyjordan97) June 18, 2015
Roof’s Facebook page has since been removed, but not before Stanley’s message was shared widely on social media. But Stanley, 29, said he never intended for the message to receive national attention and that he sought only to help diffuse the situation.
“Instead of attacking, I said let me reach out to him in love. He still has to face the consequences of the law and I’m not denying that, but what I was trying to do was save his soul,” Stanley told WTVR in Virginia.
A high school dropout, Stanley rose to fame in the early 2000s as an R&B singer. But he was shot eight times in a gang-related shooting on April 2, 2004. The attack left Stanley paralyzed on his right side before he suffered years of drug abuse. Eventually, Stanley managed to regain the ability to walk, get clean and forgive the man who shot him. The experience led Stanley to reach out to Roof, though he acknowledged that Roof’s alleged actions were hard to forgive.
“I don’t expect the people affected by this tragedy to act like everything’s perfect. It’s a process. There will be tears and there will be laughs and good memories. It’s a healing process. It took me six years to forgive the shooter who shot me,” Stanley told WTVR.
A roundup of reactions to Stanley’s Facebook post to Roof can be viewed below.
— Megan Bedoll Smith (@MeganBedoll) June 18, 2015
More people need to be like Marcus Stanley. This is a powerful comment. http://t.co/NU2c3Y6cG9
— Ryan Tuttle (@ryan_tuttle22) June 19, 2015
— C.G.Koens (@CGKoens) June 19, 2015
Gospel singer Marcus Stanley left this under the Charleston shooter's Facebook picture. Faith in humanity restored pic.twitter.com/Nqy0eslk4o
— Ryan Smith (@ryanmatthew_tex) June 19, 2015
Thank you Marcus Stanley for reflecting God's radical love. Nothing on earth compares. http://t.co/gGeljNukUP
— Allen Yeh (@allenlyeh) June 18, 2015