The Charleston AME Emanuel Church shooting that left nine dead Wednesday night is being called one of the deadliest attacks on a house of worship in this nation in decades.
Dylann Roof, the 21-year-old South Carolina native who carried out the attack, has since been apprehended. The shooting, being investigated as a hate crime by the Justice Department, resulted in the deaths of three men and six women.
Three people survived the massacre–including a 5-year-old girl.
And in the hours since the tragedy, family and friends of some of the victims have shared photos and heartfelt stories about the mothers, young men, and community leaders killed by the senseless tragedy.
Check out more information about some of the victims below.
Tywanza Sanders, 26
A graduate of Allen University, the business administration major reportedly threw himself in front of a family member at the church. President of the university, Lady June Cole, says Sanders was a quiet, but popular student. After graduating in 2014 with his degree, he worked as a barber in the Charleston area.
“He was a quiet, well-known student who was committed to his education,” Cole said. “He presented a warm and helpful spirit as he interacted with his colleagues. Mr. Sanders was participating in the Bible Study session at Mother Emanuel church at the time of the shooting.”
Sanders also showed interest in broadcast journalism. His Facebook page was filled with positive life quotes and recently, posts about the Black Lives Matter movement.
Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton was a mother of three who also coached the girls track team at Goose Creek High School. Her son, Charleston Southern University Baseball player Chris Singleton, tweeted about his mother shortly after the shooting.
Sen. Clementa Pinckney, 41
A married father of two, Clementa Pinckney was recognized for his work in the church and in the political world by President Obama and Rev. Al Sharpton. Starting his career at the tender age of 13, Pinckney preached before he was even appointed a pastor. He continued to share his faith with fellow believers. His political wins were recently honored — his response to the shooting death of Walter Scott by a South Carolina police officer helped pass the legislation of body cameras on police officers.
When asked about his successful balancing act of church and politics, he had this to say:
“I always felt God had called me to serve within the church because of what the church stands for,” Pinckney told the Post and Courier in 2010. “This has always been home.”
Pinckney is survived by his wife Jennifer and his two children Eliana and Malana.
Cynthia Hurd, 54
Hurd, who worked as the Librarian of the Charleston County Public Library (CCPL), dedicated her life to the establishment for over 30 years. She began her managerial role at St. Andrews Regional library in 2011. All 16 Charleston libraries remained closed today to honor Hurd and her services.
Her brother, former CLT City Councilman Malcolm Graham, called his sister a woman of faith in a statement to reporters.
“My sister, Ms Cynthia Maria Graham Hurd, was a victim of a senseless hate crime at Emanuel AME church. It is unimaginable that she would walk into a church and not return. But that’s who she was-a woman of faith. Our family is close-knit, and our faith will see us through. I also extend condolences to the other families of Emanuel AME Church and the city of Charleston who have been affected by this inconceivable tragedy,” he continued. “My family and I appreciate the thoughts and prayers from people across North Carolina and South Carolina.”
Myra Thompson, 59
Thompson’s daughter Denise Quarles confirmed her mother’s death with reporters Thursday afternoon. Quarles is also a member of Big Bethel, one of the four Black historic churches in Auburn, Georgia.
Rev. Depayne Middleton-Doctor, 49
The minister and mother of four daughters was confirmed to be one of the victims of the shooting. Middleton-Doctor worked as a Charles County Director of the Community Development Block Grant Program until retiring in 2005. Supporters and family members sent their condolences to her children through social media.
Susie Jackson, 87
Known to friends and family as “Suzy,” the grandmother was a longtime member of the Eastern Light Chapter No. 360 Order of the Eastern Star. Her nephew, Rodney Shaw, spoke about his loss earlier today.
Ethel Lance, 70
Lance was a proud grandmother and retired Gilliard Center employee who worked recently as a church janitor. She was also cousins with Jackson. Her grandson, Jon Quil Lance, spoke to reporters about his loss.
“She’s a Christian, hardworking; I could call my granny for anything,” he said. “I don’t have anyone else like that.”
Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr., 74
As a regular member of the church, Simmons would attend Bible study every Wednesday. The Reverend was a ministerial staff member of the church.