COLUMBIA, SC (WCSC) - At 5 p.m. Wednesday, the line to get inside the State House where the body of State Senator and Rev. Clementa Pinckney is on public display was cut off, but mourners who were already in line were not turned away.
That line has wrapped around the building since noon, an hour before doors opened, but officials say anyone who was still in line at 5 p.m. would be allowed inside to pay their respects.
Pinckney's body was brought to the State House on a horse-drawn carriage. His wife and daughters were there to greet him, joined by a host of state leaders that included Gov. Nikki Haley. Some of the bystanders were overcome with emotion as Pickney's coffin was brought inside.
"He admitted a person he didn't know into his flock, as a result of that, he lost nine lives including his own, but he did what he was called to do," Columbia resident Arnold Miller, one of the many who came to the viewing, said.
"The way he died it's just sad," said Dorine Linen, who attended college with Pinckney. You would never expect someone like him to go the way he did."
Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin said the tragedy hit close to home.
"I don't think anyone goes into public life thinking they're going to be a martyr some day, but my hope in prayer is that the service Sen. Pinckney gave in life will possibly be dwarfed by his legacy," Benjamin said.
There will be two additional viewings Thursday. The first will be in Pinckney's hometown of Ridgeland from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. at St. John AME Church on Tilman Road. A second viewing will be held at Mother Emanuel AME Church in downtown Charleston from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m.