Churches around the country are remembering the victims of the Charleston massacre. Pews are packed with people from all walks of life, coming together as one.
The tears flowed as mourners prayed for the nine people who so senselessly lost their lives.
Twenty-six-year old Tywanza Sanders is emerging as a hero in the terrible tragedy. Sanders was attending the bible study class in the basement of the church when the shooter suddenly drew his gun.
Sanders is said to have stood and tried to talk the madman into putting his weapon down, saying, “You don't have to do this."
But the gunman, Dylann Roof, reportedly responded, “It doesn't matter. I am going to shoot you all.”
When gunfire erupted, Sanders bravely leaped in front of his aunt, Susie Jackson, taking the bullet meant for her. Jackson was also slain. At 87, she was the oldest victim. Portraits of the other victims are emerging Friday.
The Rev. Clementa Pinckney, 41, was the pastor of Emanuel African Methodist Church. He was also a well-respected, South Carolina state senator.
Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, 45, was a speech therapist. She also coached high school track. She was the mother of three children.
Her son, Chris, lovingly spoke about her. "I just think about her smile. She smiled 24-7. That's what I'm thinking about to push me on and do stuff like this, just thinking about her smile," he told Bleacher Report.
He was comforted by his college baseball team. In a deeply moving moment, he even said his family forgives the shooter. "We already forgive him for what he's done, and there's nothing but love from our side of the family," he said.
Cynthia Hurd was 54. She worked for the Charleston library system for 31 years..
Depayne Middleton Doctor, 49, was a mother of four girls. A minister herself, she sang in the church choir.
Retired pastor Daniel L. Simmons was 74. He was part of Mother Emanuel’s ministerial staff.
Ethel Lance was 70 years old and a grandmother. She'd been a member of the church her entire life.
Myra Thompson was 59 and known for her love of her sorority. She was studying to become a minister.
Nine lives, all gone too soon.
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