Jun 22, 2015 12:18 AM

Latest on church shooting: Solidarity after Emanuel massacre

The Associated Press

9:30 p.m.

Thousands of people marched across Charleston's main bridge in a show of unity after nine black church parishioners were gunned down during a Bible study.

Crowds gathered on either side of the bridge around dusk and then met toward the middle of the span. Part of the bridge was closed as people were walking, taking pictures and chatting.

When the marchers from the Mount Pleasant side and the Charleston side met on the bridge, there was clapping and singing of "This Little Light of Mine."


8:30 p.m.

Thousands of people are meeting up on Charleston's main bridge in a show of unity after nine black church parishioners were gunned down during a Bible study.

The crowds are planning on holding hands across the bridge around dusk. Part of the bridge is closed as people are walking, chatting and taking pictures.

When the marchers from the Mount Pleasant side and the Charleston side met on the bridge, there was clapping and singing of "This little light of mine."

"It feels great. There's so much love out here," said Juliett Marsh of Summerville, who was toward the front of the marchers who walked from the Mount Pleasant side.


8:20 p.m.

The wife and youngest daughter of a pastor who was fatally shot along with eight parishioners were inside the Charleston, South Carolina, church at the time of the shooting.

Jennifer Pinckney and her daughter were in the pastor's study when the shooting happened Wednesday night, the Rev. Norvel Goff, interim pastor of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, told The Associated Press on Sunday night.

They locked the door, hid under the desk and called 911, Goff said.

"It was awful and horrible and unthinkable and evil," he said.

Goff said he himself left the church 20 minutes before the Bible study began that night. He said he had been conducting a quarterly business conference with about 50 church leaders, including the Rev. Pinckney and his wife.


8 p.m.

Churchgoers across the country are praying for the nine parishioners fatally shot at a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina.

From Little Rock, Arkansas, to Atlanta, Chicago and Portland, Maine, pastors of all denominations on Sunday urged their flocks to stand in unity with the families of the victims and to resist the kind of hatred that appeared to behind Wednesday's mass killing.

In Chicago, religious leaders planned an interfaith, interracial prayer service at New Mount Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church where the Rev. Marshall Hatch is pastor.

"We can't let hate win," Hatch told The Associated Press before the service.


7:30 p.m.

The interim pastor for the historic black church where nine parishioners were fatally shot says funeral services for most of the victims will be held later this week.

The Rev. Norvel Goff also confirmed a previous report that funeral services for the church's late head pastor, the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, will be held Friday.

Goff declined to release specific details on services for the others until family members have a chance to finalize arrangements.

Pinckney's casket will be at the Statehouse for public viewing on Wednesday afternoon. Additional public viewings will be held Thursday at a Columbia church and at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, where Pinckney and the others were shot.

Dylann Roof is charged with nine counts of murder in the death of the parishioners.


7 p.m.

People have started to gather at a famous bridge in South Carolina where they plan to join hands in solidarity.

One of those who showed up at the Arthur Ravenel Bridge on Sunday evening was 58-year-old accountant Sherry Howard of Moncks Corner. Howard said she drove 45 minutes to attend.

Asked why she came out, she said: "One reason is for unity. And another reason is to show that even though we are hurting and we're broken now, we are of one accord."

The shooting was a tragedy, "but out of that tragedy, look what came about: love," she said, gesturing toward dozens of people who were walking toward the gathering point.

The bridge is named after a former state lawmaker and vocal Confederate flag supporter. The slayings have renewed calls for the flag to be removed from the South Carolina Statehouse grounds, in part because photographs of Roof in a purported manifesto showed him holding Confederate flags.


6:30 p.m.

Charleston County Coroner Rae Wooten says the autopsies of the nine parishioners fatally shot at a historic black church in Charleston have been completed.

Wooten says that as expected, each of the nine died of multiple gunshot wounds, and all of the deaths have been classified as homicides.

Wooten says the bodies will be released to family members and funeral homes.

She says details of the autopsies are "not likely" to be released until the trial.

Asked if the victims received other injuries besides gunshots, Wooten replied that she found "nothing of consequence."


3:50 p.m.

Police say someone spray-painted the message "Black Lives Matter" on a statue memorializing the Confederacy in Charleston several days after a shooting at a historic black church.

Police spokesman Charles Francis said city workers used a tarp to cover up the graffiti marking the stone pedestal beneath the statue. He said he didn't know when the graffiti was spray-painted there, but said it would be cleaned off.

He said police are investigating.

Photos on local news websites from before the tarp was put up show the phrase written in bright red paint, along with the message "THIS IS THE PROBLEM. #RACIST."

The pedestal's permanent inscription is "To the Confederate Defenders of Charleston."


2:30 p.m.

Hundreds of parishioners from Charleston's churches filled the street outside 'Mother' Emanuel AME Church to pray and sing after the church's Sunday services had ended.

St. Michael's Episcopal, St. Philip's Episcopal Church and the First Baptist Church organized buses to bring people from their Sunday worship to Emanuel. Members of other churches walked or drove.

St. Michael's parishioner Lee Michael was one of those in attendance. He remarked that "racism is so anti-Christian it's unbelievable."

During services Sunday morning, pastors handed out prayer cards, one side blank for a handwritten prayer and the other stating that the churches "stand with Mother Emanuel." As the congregations recited Psalm 23, "The Lord is my Shepherd," by heart, the prayer cards were passed hand-to-hand to the front of the crowd. The cards were stapled, pinned and tapped to a wooden cross that St Michael's had brought.


1:45 p.m.

The parents of Trayvon Martin are offering their condolences for the fatal shooting of nine black parishioners in Charleston and urging people in the U.S. to tackle the issue of racism "head-on."

Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin issued a statement saying they were "profoundly saddened" by the news of Wednesday's shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church.

Fulton and Martin are the parents of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed black teen fatally shot three years ago in Florida by a neighborhood watch volunteer.

In their statement, they said the country "must tackle the issue of racism head-on by holding individuals accountable for their murderous acts and not excuse their behavior by quickly labeling them as mentally ill in the media."

They said to do so "does a terrible injustice to those who are truly mentally ill."


1: 20 p.m.

A couple of dozen parishioners have gathered in the church basement where nine members of a historic black church were fatally shot last week.

Some hugged and cried, while one man chose to sit in quiet reflection. On one of the basement's walls hangs a photograph of the late lead pastor of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church, the Rev. Clementa Pinckney.

Pinckney, who was also a state senator, was one of the nine people fatally shot Wednesday night when authorities say a white man opened fire in the church basement during a Bible study. Authorities are investigating the attack as a racially motivated hate crime.

Emanuel's sanctuary was reopened Sunday for the first worship service since the shooting.


11:45 a.m.

The acting pastor of the historic black church where nine people were fatally shot says reopening the doors of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church so soon afterward "sends a message to every demon in hell and on Earth."

The Rev. Norvel Goff told a large crowd attending the first services at the church since Wednesday's mass shooting that "we are serving notice on every evildoer."

"Just because you think you got the victory ... the only way evil can triumph is for good folks to sit down and do nothing."

Goff also said that those who may have expected members of the church or the black community to riot or resort to violence following the shootings "just don't know us."

Goff said it is time for people of all races to come together to work for peace in the community, even though "some wanted to divide the races: black, white and brown."

Goff said members of the community "will join hands and begin to work together to forge a new partnership not them against us but we are the children of God who will be marching on to victory."


11:15 a.m.

The acting pastor of the historic black church where a white man fatally shot nine people is thanking police and community members for helping church members heal and pledging to ensure that justice in the case is achieved.

The Rev. Norvel Goff told a large crowd attending the first services at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church since the shooting that the death of the church members has "been tough."

"It's been rough," Goff said. "We some of us have been downright angry.""But through it all, God has sustained us and encouraged us. Let us not grow weary."

Goff is a presiding elder of the 7th District AME Church in South Carolina. He was appointed to lead the historic Charleston church after Senior Pastor Clementa Pinckney was shot and killed. He will remain at the church until a new pastor is named.

Goff vowed that he and others will "pursue justice and we're going to be vigilant and we are going to hold our elected officials accountable to do the right thing."


10:20 a.m.

The first service at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church since nine people were killed during a Bible service is continuing with enthusiastic songs, music and clapping.

The service then became more solemn as the victims' names were read and the music's tempo slowed.

It's the first service since authorities say a gunman opened fire Wednesday night in a racially motivated attack.


10 a.m.

Church bells are ringing throughout Charleston in remembrance of nine people who were slain during a Bible study in what has been called a racially motivated attack.

The ringing bells were part of a loosely organized movement to honor the victims Sunday. To some, Charleston is known as the "Holy City" because of the numerous churches throughout downtown.

As the bells rang, people at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church held their first worship service since the massacre.

Authorities say 21-year-old Dylann Roof opened fire during the Bible study on Wednesday night. Slain were Emanuel's pastor, as well as others involved in the community and church.


9:30 a.m.

The historic black church Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal has started its first worship service since nine of its members, including its pastor, were gunned down during a Bible study.

The church was filled for the service Sunday morning. Uniformed police officers are posted on both levels of the sanctuary.

The service began with prayer and songs.

Authorities say a young white man, Dylann Roof, opened fired at the church on Wednesday night in a racially motivated attack. He was arrested a day later.

He had a bond hearing on Friday. Some victims' families spoke to him then, offering him forgiveness and mercy.


9:25 a.m.

The mayor of Charleston, South Carolina, says people in his town are telling him they can't stop crying about the church shootings.

Joseph Riley says the grief and mourning is so widespread in his city that he can only compare it to the feeling of loss people had when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

The mayor says "my heart is broken" by the actions of what he calls "an evil man with his bigoted mind."

Riley says he's touched by the outpouring of support for the victims' families a private citizen handed him a $10,000 check on Sunday morning and he says the NFL's Carolina Panthers have contributed $100,000.

Riley was interviewed on CNN's "State of the Union" one of the several news shows he appeared on before church services.

He also called for action on guns and race relations.

"If we in America can't use this as a reason to address these issues, then you know, we're not doing a very good job."


8:15 a.m.

Members of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church are being let in through a side door, presumably so they can have Sunday school.

The main service will start at 9:30 a.m. Sunday and will be the first time the congregation has worshipped at the historic black church known as the "Mother." Police say a 21-year-old white man opened fire at the end of a Bible study on Wednesday, killing nine people in a racially motivated church.

The suspect, Dylann Roof, is being held in jail on nine counts of murder and a weapons charge.

Outside the church, people are lining up to attend the service.


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