The South Carolina Republican lawmaker who suggested the Mother Emanuel AME victims didn’t defend themselves during an attack by accused gunman Dylann Roof is now backtracking on his insensitive statements.
State Rep. Bill Chumley said the nine victims “waited their turn to be shot” during a Tuesday interview. Via CNN:
“We need to be focusing on the nine families that are left and see that this doesn’t happen again,” Chumley told the news outlet. “These people sat in there and waited their turn to be shot. That’s sad that somebody in there with the means of self-defense could have stopped this.”
When asked by CNN’s Drew Griffin, “Are you turning this into a gun debate?” Chumley replied, “You said guns. Why didn’t somebody just do something? I mean, you got one skinny person shooting a gun. I mean, we need to take and do what you can.”
On Wednesday, Chumley expressed regret for the comment that suggested the number of dead was because the victims didn’t do enough. In a statement to The Post and Courier, Chumley said the blame is solely on the person who committed the crime.
“I deeply regret using those words and giving that impression,” he said. “My view, which I was clumsily trying to express, was that it is painfully regrettable that someone was not able to intervene in this demented killer’s life to stop him right up to the moment he squeezed the trigger.
“Please let me be clear: The responsibility for the despicable murders in Charleston rests solely on the murderer. If any of my remarks suggested differently, I am deeply sorry.”
Chumley is also one of the Republican lawmakers who voted against opening the debate to remove the Confederate flag from Statehouse grounds.