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Friday marks 7 years since Charleston church shooting

Published: Jun. 17, 2022 at 5:00 AM EDT|Updated: Jun. 17, 2022 at 5:17 AM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Gunfire erupted in a downtown Charleston church seven years ago Friday night, leaving nine members of a historically-Black church dead.

The shooting, committed by a white supremacist at the end of a Wednesday night Bible study into which church members welcomed him, was intended to start a race war, investigators have said.

But the survivors and victims’ families stood up one after one at the suspect’s bond hearing with messages of forgiveness instead.

The victims of the killing included the church’s senior pastor who was also a state senator and eight of his parishioners:

  • The Rev. Clementa Pinckney, 41
  • Cynthia Graham Hurd, 54
  • Susie Jackson, 87
  • Ethel Lance, 70
  • Rev. DePayne Middleton, 49
  • Tywanza Sanders, 26
  • Rev. Daniel Simmons, 74
  • Rev. Sharonda Singleton, 45
  • Myra Thompson, 59

A park honoring Jackson, the oldest of the victims, is set to open to the public Friday.

A gunman opened fire inside Mother Emanuel AME Church on the evening of June 17, 2015, killing...
A gunman opened fire inside Mother Emanuel AME Church on the evening of June 17, 2015, killing nine members, including the church's pastor, the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, after a Bible study.(Live 5/File)

To honor the nine lives lost, a memorial is set to be built on the church grounds with groundbreaking planned for the fall. Mother Emanuel AME Church leaders hope the memorial will serve as a symbol of hope for people in the community.

A total of $12.7 million has been raised so far for the project. The fundraising goal stands at $20 million.

The church says it hopes to unveil the memorial by 2024.

A three-judge panel of the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the conviction and death sentence of the man convicted of the killings back in August.

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