Dylann Roof was sentenced to death Tuesday for killing nine black church members. He is the first to get the death penalty for federal hate crimes.
Roof was arrested in Shelby, and that has made a lasting impression on the city.
Shelby is called the City of Pleasant Living, but in June of 2015, the man known for an unthinkable act of hate was stopped there by Shelby police.
"There (were) police cars clean up here," witness John Oliver said.
Oliver thought he was watching a traffic stop until he saw Roof, the man then accused of killing nine black people in a Charleston church as they prayed.
Police said Roof believed his act would start a race war.
"I feel like I had to do it," Roof said during Tuesday’s sentencing hearing. "Anyone who hates anything in their mind has a good reason to hate."
Roof pulled into the driveway of a Shelby house after the killings. The family who lived there had no connection to the convicted mass murderer.
They had so many people from all over the country visiting their house to ask about Roof that they moved a couple of months later, and the house has been vacant since.
"You would never expect that someone who committed such a heinous crime would be in your community," Rev. Ray Lockhart said.
Ministers said the arrest has changed the way people worship.
Churches in Shelby now have armed security.
"This has really transformed church," Rev. Melvin Clark said. "That event has catapulted security in church to a new height."
Cox Media Group