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The nine victims came from all walks of life and ranged in age from 26 to 87.
The Charleston, South Carolina, coroner has released the identities of all nine victims in last night’s tragic hate-crime shooting at a historic black church.
The names of the deceased are: Clementa Pinckney, Tywanza Sanders, Daniel Simmons, Sharonda Singleton, Myra Thompson, Cynthia Hurd, Suzie Jackson, Ethel Lance, and DePayne Middleton-Doctor.
All were killed by gunshot wound when suspect 21-year-old Dylann Roof allegedly announced, “I have to do it. You’re raping our women and taking over the country. You have to go.” He reportedly sat in the bible study at Mother Emanuel AME Church for nearly an hour before opening fire on the parishioners.
Here is everything we know so far about the nine victims massacred last night.
- Sen. Rev. Clementa Pinckney: Pinckney was a South Carolina state senator (D-Jasper) serving Charleston and five other counties, as well as pastor of the Mother Emanuel AME Church. Born July 30, 1973, he graduated from Allen University in 1995 and continued on to a research fellowship at Princeton before receiving a Master’s in Public Administration from South Carolina University in 1999. That year, Pinckney also married his wife, Jennifer Benjamin. The couple has two children, Eliana and Malana. According to the Washington Post, Pinckney’s final day was as busy as any other—he drove the two-hour commute from Charleston to the Columbia statehouse for a finance meeting, then headed back to Charleston to see Hillary Clinton speak before leading the regular Wednesday-night bible study at his church. Pinckney came from a long line of AME pastors who fought for civil rights and desegregation, and he had become well known for organizing prayer vigils and community discussions after the police shooting of black Charleston resident Walter Scott this April. Today, the state senate passed a unanimous resolution to commission Pinckney’s portrait to display in the chamber.
- Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton: Also a reverend at Mother Emanuel AME Church, Coleman-Singleton, 45, worked as a speech therapist and track coach. A vigil is scheduled for her at 7pm ET tonight at Goose Creek High School, where Coleman-Singleton’s son Chris is a student and a rising baseball star. She left behind three children, according to Buzzfeed News.
- Rev. Daniel Simmons: Simmons, 74, was a retired pastor from another (unidentified) church in Charleston. According to Twitter users, Simmons was a member of the Phi Beta Sigma fraternity, a historically black fraternity founded at Howard University. He was the only shooting victim who did not die on the scene, but he reportedly passed away on the operating table at the hospital.
- Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor: Middleton-Doctor, 49, was director of Charleston’s Community Development Block Grant program until she retired in 2005. Doctor was a mother of four daughters, a minister, and sang in the church choir.
- Cynthia Hurd: Hurd, 54, was a branch manager for the Charleston County Public Library. She worked at the St. Andrew’s branch, which will be named after her, officials announced today. All public libraries in Charleston were closed today in honor of Hurd and the other victims.
- Myra Thompson: Thompson, 59, was also a pastor at Mother Emanuel. She is survived by her husband Anthony, reports Buzzfeed, a vicar at the Holy Trinity REC church. Her death was confirmed by her daughter, Denise Quarles. A photo of Thompson has not yet been confirmed.
- Ethel Lee Lance: A retired employee of Charleston performing-arts venue Gaillard Center, 70-year-old Lance worked as the church’s janitor. Her grandson, Jon Quil Lance, told the Post and Courier that she had worked for the church for over 30 years and said, “She’s a Christian, hardworking; I could call my granny for anything.”
- Tywanza Sanders: Sanders, 26, was the youngest person killed. He had recently graduated from Allen University with a business degree. Only 10 weeks ago, Sanders posted a photo on Instagram of a local newspaper’s front page after the Walter Scott shooting, captioned, “There is no peace.” Sanders’s close friend Michele Gray told WISTV that Sanders worked most recently as a barber and was known for being “fun” and “ambitious.” He was like a brother, said Gray, and “You would never forget that big ol’ smile that he always had on his face… so… just to think I’ll never see that smile again in person is very heartbreaking.”
- Susie Jackson: At 87, Jackson was the oldest killed. She was a longtime church member and a cousin of Ethel Lance. Cleveland journalist Kristin Volk reported today that Jackson had been in Cleveland two weeks earlier to visit her grandchildren. The family shared this photo.
Photo via Spencer Means/Flickr (CC BY 2.0) | Remix by Jason Reed
Mary Emily O'Hara is an LGBTQ reporter. Her work has appeared in Rolling Stone, NBC Out, Daily Dot, Broadly, Vice, the Daily Beast, the Advocate, Huffington Post, DNAinfo, Al Jazeera, and Portland's Pulitzer Prize-winning newsweekly Willamette Week, among other outlets.