A Pastor, A Coach, A Grandmother: These Are The 9 Who Died

Photo: Courtesy of The Goose Creek Gators’ Facebook.
Sometimes, in the aftermath of tragedy, the converstaion focuses in on the perpetrator — why'd he do it, what made him tick, were there any warning signs? — and we lose sight of the other side: those who died.

On Wednesday, June 17, six men and three women were gunned down in a Charleston, South Carolina church. It was a hate crime; the man who opened fire was a white man who chose his victims because they were black.

The names and stories of those who died began to emerge on Thursday.

Clementa Pinckney, 41, was a state senator and the pastor for Emanual AME church where the nine died. Pinckney had been a pastor since age 18, and at 23, was the youngest African American to be elected to his state's legislature.

Earlier this year, Pinckney, a lifelong public servant and respect politician, had rallied for police reform after the death of another black man, Walter Scott, in North Charleston. Scott, who was shot in the back by an officer, died just miles from the Emanuel AME church.

Pinckney survived by his wife and two children.

Cynthia Hurd, 54, was killed just days before her 55th birthday. She worked as a librarian for more than three decades. Her brother, speaking to the Charlotte Observer wept remembering her: “She was just a beautiful person. She didn’t deserve it.”

The school where Sharonda Coleman-Singleton coached track posted this photo in remembrance of her.

We love you, Coach Singleton. Gator Nation is where it is today because of your leadership. You have our thoughts and prayers.

Posted by The Goose Creek Gators on Thursday, June 18, 2015
She was 45 years-old, a reverend, and a mother of three.

Tywanza Sanders
was 26 when he died. He was a recent graduate of nearby Allen University, worked as a barber, and was acting in a local theater production. He was the youngest of those who died.
Courtesy of Tywanza Sanders’ Facebook.

The last photo on his Instagram account was a quote from Jackie Robinson about helping others that appears to have been posted just hours before the massacre. It reads, "A life is not important except in the impact it has on others."

Archbishop Foley Beach put out a call for prayers on Facebook for Myra Thompson, 59. Her husband was the vicar of another church in Charleston.

Ethel Lee Lance
, 70, was a grandmother who'd worked at the church as a sexton for 30 years. Her grandson spoke to the Post and Courier, remembering her as, "A Christian, hardworking. I could call my granny for anything," he said, "I don’t have anyone else like that."

Lance's cousin, Susie Jackson, was a long time church attendee. At 87, she was the oldest of those killed.

Depayne Middleton
sang in the church choir, according to Mother Jones. The 49-year-old was a mother of four.
Photo: Courtesy of Facebook.

Daniel Simmons Sr., 74, passed away in an ambulance on the way to the hospital as a result of gunshot wounds. He was a pastor at a local church.

Mourners packed the Emanuel AME Church all day Thursday, and more gathered outside, singing "This Little Light of Mine" and remembering those who died. Memorials and funerals will continue in the coming days.

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