Charleston, S.C., church shooting victims include church leaders and state senator

The victims of a Wednesday night shooting at a Charleston, S.C., church include six women and three men, ranging in age from 26 to 87 years old, a local coroner said this afternoon.

Clementa Pinckney, slain pastor and senator, 'never had anything bad to say about anybody'

The victims of a Wednesday night shooting at a Charleston, S.C., church include six women and three men, ranging in age from 26 to 87 years old, the local coroner said this afternoon. 

Among the victims was Clementa Pinckney, the beloved 41-year-old pastor at Emanuel AME Church, commonly called Mother Emanuel, where the shooting occurred. 

The other victims were:

  • Tywanza Sanders, 26.
  • Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, 45.
  • DePayne Middleton Doctor, 49.
  • Cynthia Hurd, 54.
  • Myra Thompson, 59. 
  • Ethel Lee Lance, 70.
  • Daniel Simmons, 74.
  • Susie Jackson, 87.​

Here's what CBC News has learned so far about the victims:

Clementa Pinckney

Pinckney was a 19-year state legislator. He is survived by his wife, Jennifer, and two children, Eliana and Malana.

Just one year after graduating from Allen University in 1995, Pinckney became, at 23, the youngest African-American elected to the South Carolina Legislature. In 2000, he was elected to the state Senate.

Rev. Clementa Pinckney, who is also a South Carolina state senator, was among the nine victims of Thursday's shooting. (Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church)
"He never had anything bad to say about anybody, even when I thought he should," state house minority leader Todd Rutherford told The Associated Press.

"He was always out doing work either for his parishioners or his constituents. He touched everybody."

A native of Beaufort, S.C., Pinckney began preaching at the age of 13 and was first appointed pastor at 18. He was named pastor of Emanuel AME Church in 2010, according to the state Democratic Party.

"What stood out more than his big frame and booming voice was his astronomical heart he had for his fellow man," said Senate minority leader Nikki Setzler.

Cynthia Hurd

Hurd was the regional manager of St. Andrews Library in Charleston, where she had served in various capacities for nearly 31 years before her death.

Cynthia Hurd, 54, worked a librarian in Charleston for over 30 years. (Charleston County Public Libaries)
City officials said at a news conference Thursday afternoon that the branch would be renamed the Cynthia Hurd Regional Library in her honour.

"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 library posted on Facebook.

All 16 locations of the Charleston County Public Library system were closed Thursday "to honour our co-worker and all those lost," the post said.

According to a statement released by her brother, former North Carolina senator Malcolm Graham, Hurd would have turned 55 on Sunday.

"It is unimaginable that she would walk into a church and not return," Graham said.

Sharonda Coleman-Singleton

Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, 45, poses with her son, Chris. She was a speech therapist and track coach at a local high school. (Facebook)

Listed as a reverend on the Emanuel AME website, Coleman-Singleton was also a speech therapist at Goose Creek High School in Berkeley County, S.C., head coach of the girl's track team and mother to three children. 

Principal Jimmy Huskey said she was so dedicated she was at work before 8 a.m. and typically didn't leave until 8 p.m.

"She had a big smile," Huskey said. "Her No. 1 concern was always the students. She made a difference in the lives of children. She cannot be replaced here at this school."

"We love you, coach Singleton," said the school in a Facebook post. "Gator Nation is where it is today because of your leadership. You have our thoughts and prayers."

Coleman-Singleton's son, Chris Singleton, is a "rising sophomore" at Charleston Southern University and a member of the baseball team.

Chris posted a photo of his mother and Pinckney to Instagram Thursday morning. 

"It's funny how I always told you that you went to church too much," he wrote in the post. "You would laugh it off and say, 'Boy you can never have too much of the Lord.'"

DePayne Middleton Doctor

DePayne Middleton-Doctor ran a fund used to help the community's poorest residents. (Facebook)

Middleton Doctor was an employee of Charleston County until 2005.

During her time with the county, she was the director of the Community Development Block Grant, an outreach program that helps the county's poorest residents maintain their homes and neighbourhood hubs.

A mother of four daughters, she was also a minister and sang in the choir at Emanuel AME.

More recently she was an enrollment counselor at Southern Wesleyan University's Charleston campus, according to a friend.

Latrice Smalls described her cousin as "a songstress" who began singing as a girl, particularly gospel music, and performed for her church and her family. She attended Columbia College and then moved back to her hometown of Charleston.

Tywanza Sanders

Tywanza Sanders, 26, was the youngest of the shooting victims. He was a graduate of Allen University and worked at a barber shop. (Facebook)

The youngest of the victims at 26, Sanders was a graduate of the business program at Allen University.

"He was a quiet, well known student who was committed to his education," Flavia Eldemire, an administrator at Allen University, said in a statement.

"He presented a warm and helpful spirit."

On his Facebook page, Sanders said he was a fan of the Dallas Cowboys and the Charleston RiverDogs minor league baseball team. He is shown in his profile photograph smiling and looking relaxed against the backdrop of a message that read, "Your dreams are calling you."

On his Instagram account, Sanders called himself a poet, artist and businessman. His photos were filled with friends, smiles, family members and motivational quotes.

Hours before the shooting, he put up his final post, a meme with a quote from Jackie Robinson: "A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives."

Myra Thompson

Thompson was married to the reverend of Holy Trinity REC Church in Charleston. The congregation asked for prayers for the family in a Twitter post.

Ethel Lee Lance

Lance was a Charleston native who had been a member of the church for most of her life. She retired after working for more than 30 years on the housekeeping staff at the city's Gaillard Auditorium.

Lance was a Charleston native who had been a member of the church for most of her life. (Najee Washington/Associated Press)
She had served as a sexton at the church for the last five years, helping to keep the historic building clean. She was also a lover of gospel music.

"She was a God-fearing woman," said granddaughter Najee Washington, 23, who lived with Lance. "She was the heart of the family, and she still is. She is a very caring, giving and loving woman. She was beautiful inside and out."

Lance had five children, seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Daniel Simmons

A pastor, Simmons was the only victim who was not pronounced dead at the scene, according to the Charleston County coroner. He was taken to hospital, where he died in the operating room.

Simmons' father was a pastor for 50 years and his mother was a member of the women's Sunday school, according to an online obituary. He had three brothers.

Worshippers embrace following a group prayer across the street from the scene of the shooting on Wednesday. (David Goldman/The Associated Press)

With files from Reuters and The Associated Press


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