CHARLESTON, USA – Four pastors, a librarian and an 87-year-old woman were among the 9 people shot dead during a bible study at a historic black church in Charleston, officials said Thursday, June 18.
With the southern coastal city and the United States reeling from the apparently racially motivated attack, details were emerging of the lives cut short – and a community shattered. (READ: Charleston shooting suspect arrested)
Reverend Clementa Pinckney, 41, was the most well-known of the names released by the county coroner’s office.
A state senator and chief pastor of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, scene of Wednesday’s massacre, Pinckney felt the call to preach at the age of 13 and received his first ministry at 18.
President Barack Obama said he knew Pinckney, who was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives at the age of 23 – one of the youngest in the state’s history – and to the state’s senate 4 years later.
He is survived by his wife Jennifer and their two children, Eliana and Malana.
Two other members of the ministerial staff were killed: Reverend Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, 45, and Reverend Daniel Simmons Sr., 74, who died in hospital.
Coleman-Singleton was also a speech therapist and high-school track-and-field coach for the Goose Creek Gators.
Her son Chris, a baseball player and student at Charleston Southern University, had tweeted late Wednesday that “something extremely terrible has happened to my mom tonight, please pray for her and my family. Pray asap.”
Cynthia Hurd, 54, worked for the county’s libraries for 31 years and was remembered as “a tireless servant of the community who spent her life helping residents, making sure they had every opportunity for an education and personal growth.”
“Her loss is incomprehensible and we ask for prayers for her family, her co-workers, her church and this entire community as we come together to face this tragic loss,” the Charleston County Public Library said in a statement.
Church custodian Ethel Lance, 70, was remembered as a “strong woman who just tried to keep her family together,” daughter Esther told the Charleston Post and Courier.
Reverend DePayne Middleton, 49, was a mother of four who sang in the church choir.
“My beautiful Songbird. This is a hard one to Swallow,” family member Laurie Middleton wrote on Facebook. “I will truly miss you my love. Your beautiful personality, your laughter, your smile, and your love for everyone.”
Tywanza Sanders, 26, was working as a barber after graduating from Allen University with a business degree.
“He had that dry sense of humor that you almost had to think about it, and then you started laughing,” Nowa Fludd, who was working with him on a church play, told the Post Courier.
Less is of Myra Thompson, 59. The Anglican National Church in North America tweeted a request for prayers for her husband, Reverend Anthony Thompson.
Also among the dead was Susie Jackson, 87. – Rappler.com