CHICAGO (CBS) — A group of elected officials in the Chicago area has launched an effort to award the Nobel Peace Prize to the South Carolina church where nine people were shot and killed this summer.

Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston suffered a horrific blow in June, when a white supremacist opened fire during a prayer service, killing nine members of the congregation, including the senior pastor, and wounded a tenth person.

Representatives from Thornton Township have said they believe the reaction of the city of Charleston and the church after the hate-fueled mass murder qualifies them for the prize.

Dylann Storm Roof has been charged with nine counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder in the shooting massacre. At a bond hearing after the mass shooting, one grief-stricken relative after another prayed for forgiveness for Roof.

The daughter of 70-year-old church sexton Ethel Lee Lance told Roof “you hurt me, you hurt all our people, but God forgives you, and I forgive you.”

Thornton Township Supervizor Frank Zuccarelli, Chicago City Clerk Susana Mendoza, and Illinois State Sen. Donne Trotter (D-Chicago) were spearheading the effort to award the Nobel Peace Prize to Emanuel AME Church, according to Thornton Township spokesman Melvin Caldwell.

“In today’s society, where there is so much violence going on, it’s very unusual to see a community of people seek non-violent measures when emotions are riding high,” Caldwell said. “They took a non-violent approach to addressing a situation that could have turned very volatile and very horrific.”

The Chicago area group said it is seeking 1 million electronic signatures on the website nobelpeaceprizeforcharleston.com.

“We think that a million signatures would show substantial support from the public as to our efforts,” Caldwell said.