Pastor Clementa Pickney
Pastor Clementa Pickney

Clementa Pickney (1973-2015), the pastor of Emmanuel AME (African Methodist Episcopal) Church (“Mother Emmanuel”), and eight other members of the church were murdered by a lone gunman during a Bible study and prayer service at the church.  Pickney was also a Democratic member of the South Carolina Senate representing Jasper, Beaufort, Charleston, Colleton, and Hampton Counties.  The names of the other victims have not yet been released by Charleston Police pending family notifications, but include six females and two males.

Update: The Post and Courier published the names as they were released by the county coroner:

  • Clementa Pinckney, 41, the primary pastor who also served as a state senator.
  • Cynthia Hurd, 54, St. Andrews regional branch manager for the Charleston County Public Library system.
  • Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, 45, a church pastor, speech therapist and coach of the girls’ track and field team at Goose Creek High School.
  • Tywanza Sanders, 26, who had a degree in business administration from Allen University, where Pinckney also attended.
  • Ethel Lance, 70, a retired Gailliard Center employee who has worked recently as a church janitor.
  • Susie Jackson, 87, Lance’s cousin who was a longtime church member.
  • DePayne Middleton-Doctor, 49, a retired director of the local Community Development Block Grant Program who joined the church in March as a pastor.
  • Myra Thompson, 59, a pastor at the church.
  • Daniel Simmons Sr., 74, a pastor, who died in a hospital operating room.

AP reports that the gunman, described as a white man, attended the service and stayed for an hour before opening fire.  The FBI identified the gunman as 21-year-old Dylann Roof.  The Charleston Police also confirmed Roof of Lexington, SC as a suspect who is now in custody

Pickney, a fourth generation pastor, was called to preach at the age of thirteen.  He received his first appointment to pastor at the age of eighteen. He has served four other churches before he was appointed pastor of Emmanuel AME Church in 2010.

Pickney graduated with a degree in Business Administration from Allen University.  He later earned a Masters of Public Administration from the University of South Carolina, and later earned a Masters of Divinity degree from Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary (ELCA) in Columbia, SC in 2008.

Pickney was first elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives in 1996 at the age of 23 and was the youngest African-American to have been elected to the South Carolina Legislature.  He was elected to the State Senate in 2000.  He served on the Senate Finance, Banking and Insurance, Transportation, Medical Affairs and Corrections and Penology Committees.

Pickney is survived by his wife Jennifer and two children Eliana and Malana.

“Michael, Rena, Nalin and I are praying for the victims and families touched by tonight’s senseless tragedy at Emanuel AME Church. While we do not yet know all of the details, we do know that we’ll never understand what motivates anyone to enter one of our places of worship and take the life of another. Please join us in lifting up the victims and their families with our love and prayers,” South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley said in a released statement Wednesday night.

“A church is called a sanctuary because it’s a place of refuge and respite from the earthly and connects us to the heavenly.  The Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C. became a scene of unspeakable carnage because an evil person violated the sanctuary where earth and heaven meet and turned it into a place where earth and hell meet,” Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee said in a released statement.  “No civilized person can react except with revulsion to such a senseless, cowardly, and despicable act. And for it to happen in one of America’s truly great and gentile cities adds to the horror.  All Americans join in the condemnation of this act, but for Christians, such horror is especially painful because a holy place for peace and prayer has been infected and desecrated by demonic violence.  The prayers that were interrupted by a mass murderer will be continued by a grieving nation.”

“My thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims of last night’s shooting in Charleston, who were tragically taken from us as they gathered together in prayer inside their place of worship. While details are still emerging, I have faith in law enforcement that the perpetrator of this evil and senseless act will be brought to justice and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) stated.

“Our prayers are with the families of the victims and the people of Charleston. We are all heartbroken by this tragedy. To the families of the victims, please know that you are being prayed for and loved by so many in the community and across the nation. I pray that God will provide you healing in the coming days,” U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said a released statement.  “There are bad people in this world who are motivated by hate. Every decent person has been victimized by the hateful, callous disregard for human life shown by the individual who perpetrated these horrible acts.  Our sense of security and well-being has been robbed and shaken.”

“My heart is breaking for Charleston and South Carolina tonight. This senseless tragedy at a place of worship – where we come together to laugh, love and rejoice in God’s name – is absolutely despicable and can never be understood,” U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) said in a released statement last night. “Tonight we stand together in prayer for Pastor Pinckney and his congregation at Emanuel AME , and for the families who are enduring unimaginable pain at the loss of their loved ones. We will come together as a city and as a state to lift up those who need us most right now. I hope for their sake, and for the people of Charleston, that the perpetrators of this terrible crime are swiftly brought to justice.”

“We are all trying to make sense of this senseless act. This is pure evil. It’s infuriating. Mankind’s capacity for evil is horrific,” Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal said in a three-part message on Twitter.  “I’m enraged by this ungodly act and my heart breaks for these families. I hurt for them.  Every American needs to take a few minutes today, and in the days to come, to pray for the families of those murdered last night.”

Other presidential candidates took to Twitter:

News One pulled together 9 things readers should know about the historic Emmanuel AME Church.  Justin Taylor uncovered the following video of Pickney in 2013 discussing the history of the church where he was later murdered.

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