Twenty-seven-year-old Amber Roof was due to be married last month. She planned to wed Michael Tyo, a U.S. Army Reserve recruiter, at the Mitchell House and Gardens in Lexington, South Carolina. But the wedding was called off, because days prior to the event, her brother—21-year-old Dylann Roof—allegedly opened fire on a black church in Charleston and killed nine people, in what has since been nationally condemned as a hate crime. Dylann Roof, who was arrested shortly after the shooting, currently faces charges for nine counts of murder.
According to FBI sources, Amber Roof played a critical role in her brother’s arrest: She called the authorities and alerted them of his identity as soon as she saw him appear in surveillance photos on the news. As the country reeled from the shooting in the days afterward, though, the Roof family was bombarded with questions and threats. Roof made the decision to cancel her wedding reportedly out of concern for her family’s safety and a desire to mourn those who had been killed.
Last weekend, Roof started a page on Go Fund Me, a public fund-raising website similar to Kickstarter, with the intent of raising money to cover non-refundable wedding costs. “We know money cannot replace the wedding we lost and our perfect day. However, it will help us to create new memories and a new start with our new family,” she wrote on the page. But after being up for four days, the fundraiser—which had raised $1,545 toward a $5,000 goal—was abruptly taken down from the site Thursday. Spokespeople from the Go Fund Me Site say the page was removed by Roof herself.
It’s unclear why she chose to end the fundraiser, but the page did draw a mix of sympathy and criticism. Some people left messages on the page expressing their sorrow, and others, elsewhere online, attacked Roof for behaving inappropriately. “Nobody blames you for what your brother did… [but] right now it’s much too soon,” one person wrote in an open letter. “This is peak white privilege,” another article accused. Reactions to the Go Fund Me campaign on Twitter were largely negative.
Roof had promised that most of the money raised would go toward covering lost wedding costs and paying bills, and that 10 percent of the funds would be donated to Emanuel AME Church, the site of the shooting. Some have praised her decision to offer donations, while others called it weak and unsubstantial.
“June 21 was supposed to be the happiest day of our lives,” Roof wrote on the now-deleted page. “It is the day every girl dreams of, it was the day we dreamed of… Our day was the exact opposite. Our wedding day was full of sorrow, pain, and shame, tainted by the actions of one man.”