CHARLESTON, SC (WTOC) - Pastor Richard Graf performed more than 1,000 baptisms over a 50-year span, but there's one child who stands out in his mind now more than ever.
On April 20, 1997, the pastor held the hand of two-year-old Dylann Storm Roof as he placed the sign of the cross on his forehead and said the words, "you have been marked with the cross of Christ forever."
He had no idea the drastically different role church would play in the boy's life 20 years later.
"We were watching the news on television and saw the Charleston church shooting come across," Graf recalled. "My wife said, 'Didn't we know some Roofs in Columbia?' and I said, 'Yes we did.'"
Roof went to Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina in June 2015. He attended a bible study with a .45-caliber semiautomatic handgun stuffed into a bag around his waist. He shot and killed nine African-American worshipers in a racial rampage before walking out the door.
Roof faced trial in 2016 and told the jury he did not regret what he did. He was found guilty on 33 counts and was sentenced to death in January.
Hear how Graf is handling the horrific shooting and his feelings on baptism Thursday, Feb. 16 on THE News.