Charleston Church Shooter Dylann Roof ‘Caught Us With Our Eyes Closed’

Doris Simmons, of Charleston, S.C. stands next to Emanuel AME Church, the scene of last week's mass shooting, as the sun rises Friday, June 26, 2015, in Charleston.  President Barack Obama delivered the eulogy for one of the victims, Sen. Clementa Pinckney, during his funeral Friday at a nearby college arena. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Doris Simmons, of Charleston, S.C. stands next to Emanuel AME Church, the scene of last week’s mass shooting, as the sun rises Friday, June 26, 2015, in Charleston. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

(NBC News) – In a matter of seconds, a moment of quiet prayer turned into a massacre.

“We were just about to say the prayer to be released,” said Felicia Sanders, one of three people who survived when a gunman opened fire during Bible study at her Charleston, South Carolina, church on June 17.

“He caught us with our eyes closed. I never told nobody this.”

Sanders and another survivor, Polly Sheppard, spoke to NBC News’ Lester Holt in an exclusive interview Wednesday. They said they want those killed in the shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church to be remembered as heroes, not as victims.

Sanders was at Bible study with her son Tywanza, 26, her 11-year-old granddaughter, and another relative of hers, Susie. She, her granddaughter and Sheppard were the only ones who left the room alive.

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