They were at Bible study. Many of them were members of the clergy at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal, a historic church that has been central to black life and the civil rights movement. Some were just stopping by to pray. They could have had no idea what might happen next.
The victims of a mass shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, were named on Thursday, and will be remembered with ongoing vigils in the so-called Holy City and across the US.
Below is information about each victim.
Clementa Pinckney was a pastor and state senator who proposed gun-control legislation and pushed South Carolina to pass a law requiring police to wear body cameras. Photograph: Randall Hill/Reuters
Called “Clem” by his friends, 41-year-old Pinckney (pictured above) was a well-respected pastor and South Carolina state senator, the youngest black representative ever elected to the legislature.
He graduated from Allen University with a degree in business administration, and was described by the university as “one [of] its most prominent alums”.
“Senator Pinckney was a brilliant young pastor and leader who always possessed an empowering and healing message,” the university said in a press release. In his junior year of college, Pinckney was also selected as a fellow for Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson summer research program. He received a graduate degree in public administration from the University of South Carolina.
Pinckney began preaching at 13 years old, according to his biography on the Mother Emanuel AME website. At 18, he had received his first pastor’s appointment.
In the state legislature, he had proposed strict gun-control legislation – later failed – to require background checks for gun purchases in South Carolina.
He also campaigned for police to be equipped with body cameras, which he said “may not be the golden ticket, the golden egg, the end-all-fix-all, but [would help] to paint a picture of what happens during a police stop”.
Mandatory body cameras became law in the state one week before Pinckney’s death.
Tywanza Sanders. Photograph: Facebook
A 2014 graduate of Allen University’s business administration program, Sanders, 26, was the youngest victim of the church shooting.
The school’s interim president, Lady June Cole, said that Sanders worked as a barber while attending the university, and that he was a Charleston native. Sanders also wrote poetry, and was attempting to have a series of poems published before his death.
“He was a quiet, well-known student who was committed to his education. He presented a warm and helpful spirit as he interacted with his colleagues,” Allen University said in a press release.
Sharonda Coleman-Singleton and her son. Photograph: Facebook
Coleman-Singleton, 45, was identified by her son’s school, Charleston Southern University. Her son, Chris Singleton, was described as a “rising sophomore” baseball player at the university.
“Chris’s mother was just that parent that as a coach you are proud to have as part of your program,” baseball head coach Stuart Lake said about Coleman-Singleton. “What she brought to our team is immeasurable.”
Coleman-Singleton was a speech therapist at Goose Creek high school in Berkeley County, South Carolina, and was also the head coach of the girls’ track team there, specifically handling hurdles and sprints. She ran track herself at South Carolina State University.
Goose Creek’s athletic director, Chuck Reedy, told the Post and Courier that Coleman-Singleton was “very professional in everything she did”.
“She was an excellent role model for all of our students, in the way she carried herself. She was just first class,” Reedy said, according to the Post and Courier.
She was also listed as a reverend at Mother Emanuel AME, according to the church’s website.
Hurd, 54, was the regional manager of the St Andrew’s library, part of the Charleston County library system, where she worked for 31 years. Hurd was also the sister of former North Carolina senator Malcolm Graham.
The library has canceled events and closed the library following the massacre. Hurd, “dedicated her life to serving and improving the lives of others”, the library said in a statement on the system’s Facebook.
“Cynthia was a tireless servant of the community who spent her life helping residents, making sure they had every opportunity for an education and personal growth,” the library said on its Facebook page.
All 16 Charleston County libraries will close on Thursday in memory of the nine victims shot at the Mother Emanuel AME church, and the St Andrew’s location will be closed on Friday as well.
She was a well-known woman in the community, and the Charleston county coroner Rae Wooten said that, “Obviously, we’re all shattered by that, she’ll be missed deeply.”
“It is unimaginable that she would walk into church and not return,” Graham said in a statement. “But that’s who she was – a woman of faith.”
DePayne Middleton-Doctor Photograph: Internet
Middleton-Doctor, 49, worked in Charleston county as director of the federal community development block grants, work that helps residents install things such as septic tanks, the Charleston county council chairman said on Thursday.
“In a very big way she was doing very human kinds of things in her role in government for others,” said J Elliott Summey, Charleston council chairman.
Middleton-Doctor retired from her job in the county in 2005.
Rev Dr Daniel L Simmons Sr
The 74-year-old was a reverend at the Mother Emanuel AME Church, in addition to being a retired pastor, ABC News reported.
Lance, 70, was a sexton who had worked at the church for more than 30 years, according to her family.
“Granny was the heart of the family,” her grandson Jon Quil Lance told the local Post and Courier newspaper, as he waited outside the trauma center of Medical University hospital.
“She’s a Christian, hardworking; I could call my granny for anything. I don’t have anyone else like that,” he added.
Thompson, 59, was the wife of Anthony Thompson, a vicar at the Holy Trinity REC Church in Charleston.
The Anglican Church of North America asked for prayers on her husband’s behalf, in a Twitter post.
At 87, Jackson was the oldest of the victims of the Wednesday shooting.
A child of the civil-rights movement, she witnessed South Carolina’s historic role in American race relations, up to and including the day of her death at a church that was home to a slave revolt, before being burned down by white supremacists, visited by Martin Luther King Jr, and now baring witness to another massacre.
Culled from The Guardian UK