The Rev. Clementa Pinckney died fulfilling his calling to preach. He and eight others were gunned down Wednesday during a prayer meeting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Pinckney, 41, pushed for legislation to make police wear body cameras, believing it would protect lives, said his cousin, state Sen. Kent Williams. In 1996, at 23, Pinckney was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives, the youngest Black person ever. Four years later, he was elected to the state Senate.
The Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton was a 45-year-old mother of three and high school track coach. Coleman-Singleton coached the girls track team at Goose Creek High School. In addition to her work with the high school, Coleman-Singleton worked as a speech therapist and reverend at Emanuel AME Church, according to its website. Her cousin, Constance Kinder, told BuzzFeed News that Coleman-Singleton was a “beautiful spirit.”
“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. She was only 45 years old, she still has three kids to raise.”
Librarian Cynthia Hurd, 54, worked at the public library for 31 years and served as the manager at St. Andrews Regional Library since 2011.
“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 Library said in a statement.
In a 2003 interview, Hurd said, “I like helping people find answers,” adding that the best thing about being a librarian was service. “Your whole reason for being there is to help people.”
Tywanza Sanders, 26, was a recent graduate of Allen University Division of Business Administration in in Columbia. He had most recently been working at a barber shop.
“He was a quiet, well-known student who was committed to his education,” Dr. Flavia Eldemire, vice president of Institutional Advancement at Allen University, said in a statement.
Tessa Spencer, a reporter and anchor for Charleston’s ABCNews4, told BuzzFeed News that Sanders died while trying to save a family member.
“They said he jumped in front of his aunt or grandmother,” Spencer said. That family member was also killed in the shooting, she said.
Myra Thompson, 59, was the wife of the Rev. Anthony Thompson, who is a vicar at Holy Trinity REC. The church confirmed the death in a tweet Thursday. Bishop Alphonza Gadsden, a friend of Thompson’s, said she knew the victim for decades.
“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,” Gadsden said.
Ethel Lee Lance
Ethel Lee Lance was a 70-year-old sexton who had worked at the church for more than 30 years, according to media reports.
“I’m lost, I’m lost,” her grandson, Jon Quil Lance, told The Post and Courier as he waited outside the trauma center of Medical University Hospital. He said his grandmother was “the heart of the family.”
Daniel L. Simmons
Daniel Simmons was a ministerial staff member at the church. His daughter, Arcelia Simmons, said that Simmons, 74, attended Bible study every Wednesday. He died in a hospital operating room after being shot. Dylann Roof is accused of the shootings at the church.
Depayne Middleton Doctor
The Rev. Depayne Middleton Doctor, 49, was the mother of four daughters. She sang in the church’s choir and spoke at the pulpit with Pinckney, The Post and Courier reported. “My beautiful songbird. This is a hard one to swallow,” a family member, Laurie Middleton, wrote on Facebook.
She had previously directed a community development program in Charleston County. In December, she started a new job as an admissions coordinator at the Charleston campus of her alma mater, Southern Wesleyan University.
Susie Jackson, 87, was a longtime church patron and Ethel Lance’s cousin, according to the Post and Courier.