Dot Scott, President of the NAACP in Charleston, spoke to reporters about the woman and the nine other victims. Three men and six women were killed by a White male inside of the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church Wednesday evening shortly after 9 p.m. as they took part in bible study.
A five-year-old girl and another victim also survived the shooting. The young girl reportedly played dead as the gunman opened fire.
Reports state the gunman “sat down in the church for a bit” before he committed the crime. State officials have labeled the shooting a hate crime.
One of the victims, identified as Ethel Lance by family and friends, worked at the church for over 30 years was called the heart of the family by her grandson, Jon Quil Lance.
“She’s a Christian, hardworking; I could call my granny for anything,” he said. “I don’t have anyone else like that.” He said he didn’t know her condition. “I don’t even know if she’s alive now.” He threw his hands up. “I don’t even know if my grandmother is alive.”
Church pastor, State Sen. Clementa Pinckney, is also known to be one of the victims of the shooting, although police have not yet confirmed. Political allies like Rev. Al Sharpton and Mayor Steve Benjamin of Columbia, South Carolina, however, mourned the 41-year-old Wednesday evening.
Senator Clementa Pinckney was a star. I’ve known him since he was a teenager & state house page, then to leadership in the House & Senate.
— Steve Benjamin (@SteveBenjaminSC) June 18, 2015
Rev. Clements Pinckney, a SC legislator is among the 9 killed in SC church. I am reminded that he helped lead our prayer vigil for Scott.
— Reverend Al Sharpton (@TheRevAl) June 18, 2015
Pinckney was the youngest African American to win the South Carolina senate at the age of 27. He was also elected to the House of Representative at 23-years-old. The Democratic state senator was an advocate of body cameras for police officers and held a prayer vigil for Walter Scott, the former US Coast Guard who was killed by a white police officer earlier this year. He also recently extended his support to presidential candidate Hillary Clinton at fundraiser this week.
Sharpton is expected in Charleston at noon to partake in a prayer vigil for the victims.
Police are still on the hunt for the shooter, releasing surveillance photos and asking for the public’s help.