Emanuel 9 family sends message to Orlando shooting victims' families

VIDEO: Family of Emanuel 9 victim sends message to families of Orlando shooting victims

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The family of one of Charleston's Emanuel 9 is sending condolences to the families of the Orlando shooting victims.

Rose Simmons has written a letter to the families of the Orlando victims.  She tells them they are linked with the families of the Emanuel 9 by "heartache, sorrow and senseless loss of the ones we've loved."

She is the daughter of the Rev. Daniel Simmons, a retired minister, one of the nine people shot during a bible study nearly one year ago at the Mother Emanuel AME church in downtown Charleston.

Accused shooter Dylan Roof is facing state and federal charges in connection with the shootings.

The family sat down to talk about their loss, and offered thoughts and prayers to the families of the Orlando shooting victims, gunned down in a nightclub early Sunday morning.

Daniel Simmons, Jr., says his family feels their pain, but he recommends they be forgiving.

"Get to a place of comfort and peace and quiet and stillness in your heart within yourself, and be able to forgive the young man that took your loved one's life," Simmons said.

He says being forgiving is part of the healing process. His daughter, Alana, the granddaughter of Rev. Daniel Simmons, has established the non-profit "Hate Won't Win" foundation.

She has scheduled an event called "March for Unity," one of the Emanuel 9 Anniversary commemoration events, for Saturday.

"We know all too well the pain that the people in Orlando, Florida are experiencing right now," Simmons said. "Our organization isn't just a black-white thing, a Christian-Muslim thing, a gay-straight thing, our efforts are extended to every community."

Simmons said she hopes the LGBT community and those remembering the Orlando shootings can participate in Saturday's march. Simmons wants them to  experience what she called, "the love, and hope, and forgiveness felt by the families of the Emanuel 9."

Simmons is also sending the Orlando families a donation from the memorial and scholarship fund she founded in her father's memory.

In a full page letter to the Orlando families, she writes in part:

"I know personally the pain you are now facing as you struggle to find reasons and answers for this tragedy. My heart goes out to each and all of you in every way. I will pray for your comfort, fully understanding your sorrow in the loss of your loved one through this terrible act of violence. May you find the strength and peace, even now, that only God in His magnificent wisdom can offer you in times like these."

"My father, Daniel Lee Simmons, Sr. and his eight (8) 'eternal comrades' in their final earthly act, extended a hand of friendship to a stranger. It would be their last act, but it would prove to be their greatest act of all. I, too, as my father did, extend to you a hand of friendship, encouragement, and simply a hand of love and care.  For now…..you and I are no longer strangers…" 

"We want to be a blessing to you, as so many thousands of people around the world have been a blessing to the families of the Charleston shootings in our great time of need."

Friday is the first anniversary of the shooting at Mother Emanuel AME Church.

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