CHARLESTON, S.C. — Nine people were killed Wednesday evening after a man opened fire during a church meeting. Dylann Roof, the suspect, was caught on Thursday in North Carolina, roughly 250 miles from Charleston.
We write for IJReview and live in Charleston, so on Thursday we decided to visit the scene.
We tried to get close to the church, but could only get so far due to the surrounding police presence.
Outside of the crime tape, several mourners gathered in prayer near a memorial that had been set up by the community.
As we walked to a memorial service several blocks away, we encountered these two young women:
They said how it is a tragedy that a pastor and senator was killed in such a terrible attack against a longstanding church in the community:
“We don't feel safe going to church. It's just very sad.”
We also spoke with Synthia, who says she is a disabled Air Force veteran:
She told us:
"I was working with the Black Panthers in 1970-71, and since that time, in my opinion, we as a community, as a people, as a race have failed to transmit any of our values from one generation to the next...
We don't have a basis of societal values that generate the type of mentality and social interaction that is necessary for us to survive as a species, much less as a country."
At the Morris Brown AME Church nearby, hundreds gathered for a memorial service being held for the victims of last night's terror attack.
Despite the heat index in excess of 100 degrees, community members paid their respects by kneeling on the street in prayer.
The crowd also broke out into song on several occasions:
Local church leaders also addressed the gathering:
Reverend Ra'Shan Wilson, Pastor of the Impact Church in Charleston, offered his comments directly to IJReview:
“First of all, I think the tragedy in and of itself is definitely indescribable. I have never seen anything like it at all. I've heard about things happening, but you hear about it in different cities, different states, but in the Lowcountry, it's really hit home.”
I think the response from the community is tremendous and is a powerful demonstration of love and common unity, which is what community should be, and I really think some good is going to come out of this."
We also spoke with another local pastor, Reverend Dr. Charles C. McLamore:
Rev. Dr. McLamore talked about how he will remember his friend, the Rev. Dr. Senator Clementa Pinckney, the pastor of Emanuel AME who was killed in last night's attack:
"We were side by side brothers, I admired him, I honored him...
I had the pleasure of meeting his family and it breaks my heart that his children will not have him with them for Father's Day this Sunday, just a couple days away from now.
It breaks my heart, as loving as his grandmother was, that she doesn't have her sweet prince of a grandson anymore in the land of the living...and it's all because somebody, no doubt, was misinformed."
He also had a message for the killer, Dylann Roof:
“Prepare to face justice and prepare to meet his Lord, his maker. I hope he can stand it, in that judgment seat.”
Finally, as the memorial service for the victims began, other members of the community vocalized their opinion about change:
Their beliefs led to this interaction that we captured long after most of the major media outlets had packed up their gear: