On Last Wednes- day, June 17, 2015 a gunman released fire on a bible study group at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C. It is one of the oldest and most influential African American churches in the U.S. The suspected gunman, Dylann Roof, was apprehended Thursday, after a woman reported seeing him and his vehicle in Shelby, North Carolina. Dylann Roof is accused of opening fire on the unsuspecting group while spewing racial comments towards his victims.
There were 9 victims total, eight of which died at the scene and the ninth died in surgery later that night. Of the nine victims, four were reverend members of the church and one was State Senator of South Carolina and Senior Pastor of the Emmanuel AME Church, Rev. Clementa Pinckney. The others are: Cynthia Hurd, 54; Rev Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, 45; Tywanza Sanders, 26; Ethel Lance, 70; Rev Depayne Middleton-Doctor, 49; Susie Jackson, 87; Rev Daniel Simmons Sr, 74 and Myra Thompson, 59.
Rev. Clementa Pinckney was a Democratic member of the South Carolina Senate, representing the 45th District since 2000. He was previously a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives from 1997 through 2000. Pinckney was a senior pastor at Mother Emanuel A.M.E. in Charleston. He recently created legislation advocating police officers to wear body cameras.
Since the shooting there have been many demonstrations in Charleston and other cities across the United States including Savannah, to demonstrate against what is being called a hate crime against African Americans.
In Savannah last Friday evening hundreds gathered to hold a prayer vigil at the St. Philip A.M.E. Church located on Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. Rev. Scottie Swinney, Sr, Pastor of St. Philip was joined by Mayor Edna Jackson, community leaders as well as other ministers throughout the Coastal Empire. This vigil demonstrated the power of unity and love. It was a beautiful blend of people crossing denominational lines. Pastor Scottie Swinney says it’s opportunity to stand with Charleston and help them heal. Mayor Edna Jackson told those attending the vigil that she hopes peace will continue to guide us.
The senator, Clementa Pinckney’s funeral is scheduled for 11 am Friday morning at the College of Charleston’s campus in the TD Arena. President Barack Obama will deliver the eulogy. President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will all attend funeral services for Pinckney.
The funerals of the other victims have been scheduled throughout the week and memorials have been planned in their honor.
Roof has since been given a bail set at one million dollars, but has not been released.