Communities

Who Are the Victims of the Charleston Shooting?

by Tasbeeh Herwees

June 18, 2015

Nine people died last night when Dylann Storm Roof, a 21-year-old white male, opened fire on their bodies at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church in South Carolina. Here are their names:

Reverend Clementa Pinckney, 41 years old, led a life that was defined by a dedication to public service starting at a young age. He was only 18 when he first began preaching, and only 23 when he was first elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives. Five years later, he entered the South Carolina State Senate, where he lobbied to pass police body camera legislation after the killing of Walter Scott. He leaves behind a wife and two children.

“I see my public life as a extension of my ministry,” he told The Post and Courier in 2001. “I believe in a progressive, holistic ministry where you are mentally, politically and socio-economically involved. Faith is not just getting you to heaven.”

Daniel L. Simmons, 74 years old, passed away in the hospital after sustaining gun injuries at the church. He was a ministerial staff member of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church, and attended Bible study every Wednesday, his daughter-in-law told ABC News.

“I’m doing very well with the grace and peace that God has planted,” said Daniel L Simmons, Jr., his son, to Buzzfeed News.

Ethel Lee Lance, 70 years old, was an employee of the church. She worked there for more than three decades.

“I’m lost, I’m lost,” her grandson Jon Quil Lance told The Post and Courier. “She’s a Christian, hardworking; I could call my granny for anything. I don’t have anyone else like that.”

Myra Thompson, 59 years old, was a pastor at the church and a Bible study teacher.

“She was a person who loved the Lord. Her every objective was to please him in all that she did. She was teaching Bible study when she was killed,” said Bishop Alphonza Gadsden, who was a friend, to CNN.

Rev. Depayne Middleton Doctor, 49 years old, sang in the church choir. She was on the pulpit with Rev. Pinckney when Roof ended both of their lives. Middleton also worked at Southern Wesleyan University as an admissions coordinator.   

“Always a warm and enthusiastic leader, DePayne truly believed in the mission of SWU to help students achieve their potential by connecting faith with learning,” Southern Wesleyan University president Todd Voss said.

She leaves behind four daughters.

Tywanza Sanders, 26 years old, had been in Bible study only moments before he was shot and killed by Roof. His friends and family have been mourning him publicly on social media. The young man was a graduate of Allen University, where he studied business administration, but he was also an aspiring poet and rapper. Only four months ago, Sanders had posted a track to SoundCloud titled, “What’s Wrong With Just Being Black?”

Allen University released a statement today about Sanders’ death. “He was a quiet, well known student who was committed to his education,” they wrote. “He presented a warm and helpful spirit as he interacted with his colleagues.”

Cynthia Hurd, 54 years old, was a proud librarian. She dedicated 31 years of her life to the Charleston County Public Libraries, and was last serving as a manager at the St. Andrews Regional Library. When news of her death was made public, the Charleston County Public Libraries announced on Facebook that their branches would be closed on Thursday, and that the St. Andrews Library would be renamed in her honor. 

“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 Charleston County Public Libraries said in a Facebook post.

“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,” they said.

Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, 45 years old, was a speech therapist, a high school track coach, and a reverend.

“Sharonda was pretty on the outside and just as beautiful on the inside — the one thing I know for sure she loved the Lord so she was where she enjoyed being,” her cousin told Buzzfeed News. “She was only 45 years old, she still has three kids to raise.”

Her son, Christopher, tweeted last night to solicit prayers for his mother’s life. “Something extremely terrible has happened to my mom tonight,” he wrote. She was a mother of three.

Susie Jackson, 87 years old, was a regular churchgoer and sang in the church choir.

“It really hit me last night. It kind of hit my dad hard, because he's an only child, so we're trying to be there for him,” Tim Jackson, her grandson, told Cleveland.com. “My mom, she's dealing with it real hard today. I don't think it's going to hit me hard again until we travel to South Carolina.”

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Who Are the Victims of the Charleston Shooting?